"Catching on to Catcher in the Rye"

lessons on The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Writing assignments based on the reading of The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
Developed by Sandy Scragg
Murry Bergtraum High School
New York City, 2002


Writing from the Book

Unlike many typical writing assignments, most of these assignments ask students to either take on the voice of a character in the novel or to write personally based upon people and events in The Catcher in the Rye. These assignments have helped my students to develop a deeper connection to the novel and have aided their overall comprehension of the story. On the surface, many of these assignments are "fun," but to complete them, students must base their writing upon a close and thorough reading of the novel. Many assignments are accompanied by web sites and internet resources that are linked within the assignment descriptions below

Assessment/Evaluation Tips: Try to determine how well the student gets into the mind of the characters, if they incorporate euphemisms or truly sound like that character, and make sure that students have names/events correct as they occured.


1) Write a letter from Dr. Thurmer (principal of Pencey Prep) to Holden's parents telling them that he has been thrown out of school.

2) Write the composition that Holden wrote for Stradlater about Allie's baseball mitt. See a student sample of this assignment.

3) Write one of the Hazel Weatherfield stories (Phoebe's female detective character). See a student sample of this assignment.

4) Design what Phoebe's web site would look like (see a student sample of this assignment). Write a short explanation of your design.

5) Write a journal from Holden's point-of-view (and using Holden's language) after the incident with Maurice & Sunny.

6) Write about an incident in your life using Holden's language.

7) Design your own cover to The Catcher in the Rye (see student samples of this assignment). Write a short explanation behind your design.

8) Read the Catcher cartoon. Draw a cartoon of any incident in the novel.

9) Write a letter from Phoebe to Holden after he has been committed to the sanitarium.

10) Draw a map of Holden's journey around the city based on a map of NYC.

11) Write a series of emails between Holden and Jane after he has entered the sanitarium. You may use email shorthand and abbreviations--make it realistic!

12) Write the psychologist's report about Holden's condition.

13) Pretend Holden went to the police after the Mr. Antolini incident. Write up a police report as if Holden was giving a statement to a police officer. After writing out the incident objectively, do you still think Holden has a case?

14) Write a letter to J.D. Salinger about The Catcher in the Rye. (Read some letters on the Letters to Salinger web site for ideas or a model.) NOTA BENE: The "Letters to Salinger" site is slightly unpredictable. You may need to refresh your browser a few times to get the site loaded. The wait is worth it, so please be patient.

15) Write Allie Caulfield's obituary.


lessons page | student samples | hotlinks for teachers | overview of unit