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Helping Holden Caulfield

 

Introduction:  
  J. D. Salinger's 1951 novel, The Catcher in the Rye, introduces its main character, Holden Caulfield, at the beginning of chapter 1. While narrating the story, the famous protagonist alludes that he is in some type of mental health facility due to events that occurred in the recent past, which have made him "sick." As the novel progresses, Holden takes the reader through the events that have led him to his current situation. As it is explained in the novel, Holden is a very complex young man who has had traumatic events occur in his life. Additionally, before having a nervous breakdown, Holden spent several days encountering many different people from his past, which led him to further reflect on the pain and hardships he had endured throughout his childhood and adolescence. Now, I would like you to imagine yourself in a specific role. Imagine you are a doctor at the facility in which Holden is staying. You belong to a team of doctors who have been assigned to his case. It is up to you to determine what the main reasons are behind Holden becoming sick. You have spoken to Holden and he has explained to you the recent events before his breakdown (e.g. which people he encountered and spoke to, what specific events happened etc.). Along with all the other doctors on the team, you have all came to the consensus that Holden is extremely depressed. However, more information is needed. Before Holden can be released from the hospital, he must show that he will not be at risk of having the same thing happen again. With this in mind, you and the other doctors of the hospital will be broken up into two groups. Both groups will be assigned to examine specific people and events that Holden has described (chapters of the novel). It is up to you to analyze these people and events to see what connection, if any, they had on Holden ending up where he is now. After you analyze all of your information, both groups will come together to share their results, as well as a plan to help Holden move on from his breakdown.
Task:  
  How did the people and events Holden Caulfield encountered days before his nervous breakdown affect him? What role, if any, did these people and/or events play in putting Holden in his current situation? As a doctor at the facility Holden is staying in, it is up to you along with your colleagues to determine how the recent past has affected Holden in such a dramatic way. In your assigned group, you and other doctors will examine, discuss and analyze people and events that Holden has mentioned during his discussions with the staff. Eventually, your group and the other will come together to share your results in a staff meeting. Two page typed reports are due from each group, but they must also be presented orally to the whole staff. Remember, you are trying to help Holden move on in his life. You are his doctor and he needs your help!
Process:  
  Once you and your colleagues have been split up into your specific groups, people and events described by Holden during his therapy sessions will be assigned. In your groups, you and your fellow doctors will analyze your assigned people and events. You will look at them and their relation to Holden. When did Holden encounter this person and/or experience this event? What effect did it have on him then? What effect does it have on him now? Is this person's interaction with Holden and/or event responsible for him having a nervous breakdown? Why or why not? As you analyze these people and events, you will discuss with your group members possible reasons that they may or may not be legitimate factors in Holden becoming sick. Before you come together to share your results with the other group, you must have a typed two page report detailing what conclusions you and your colleagues have come to. Additionally, this report must be shared with the other group and ready to be explained and/or defended if anyone raises any questions or concerns about it.
Resources:  
  For this web quest, really the only resource you need is your novel. All of the assigned characters and events are detailed in great detail. However, in order to provide character summaries and a timeline of the events, the following web sites will be provided as they all describe specific people and events. Additionally, some of these resources provide a reflective look at the characters, and bring up certain themes or ideas that may not be so apparent in the text. It is important that the following be noted. SparkNotes will be used as a resource. I am aware that SparkNotes has chapter summaries and it is a very common practice for some students to read them instead of the actual novel. While this is in no way shape or form acceptable, I'm still providing the link for the following reason. SparkNotes offers various character and chapter analyses which will be helpful in studying and analyzing characters and events from the story. Additionally, a wikipedia page on The Catcher in the Rye will also be provided. Make sure that this is clear and we all understand that these are NOT scholarly sources and should never be used or cited to support a class paper. There is no need for sources for this particular assignment, so these resources are being given just as references. In no way, shape or form is plagiarism acceptable. If you or your group uses exact ideas/concepts from any of these sources and pass them off as your own, I will know about it! Don't put yourself in a bad situation! Remember, these links are merely references. I want to hear your ideas!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Catcher_in_the_Rye

http://www.answers.com/topic/the-catcher-in-the-rye-novel-2

http://www.answers.com/topic/the-catcher-in-the-rye-novel-7

http://www.deadcaulfields.com/CatcherChronology.html

http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/catcher/
Evaluation:  
  You will be graded and evaluated on this project through a two page paper that will be written collaboratively through your group. Additionally, all group members must present a part of your group's analysis and findings regarding the characters and events you were assigned to study.
Conclusion:  
  Remember, the whole point of this assignment is to think and reflect deeper on the effect that all of the people and events in the novel had on Holden Caulfied suffering a nervous breakdown. You are pretending that you are a doctor trying to find the link between Holden and his illness. I would love to hear your feedback about this assignment. On my blog page, http://jwalradclassblog.blogspot.com/, please post your thoughts and feelings regarding this assignment. Did you feel it was successful in helping you reflect further on the connection of characters and events in the story. Did it help you get a better understanding on the general theme of the story? What changes or modifications could be made to this assignment to make it better? Please feel free to share all opinions!

This Web Quest is available at www.teach-nology.com