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28 Striking Quotes from The Catcher in the Rye

Last updated on Jul 15th, 2020

28 Striking Quotes from The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye is a novel written by American author J. D. Salinger, first published in 1951.

Although primarily intended for adults, the novel and its protagonist Holden Caulfield have become favorites among teenagers and young adult readers. The novel deals with themes such as angst, rebellion, society, love, loss, and alienation.

In the decades since its publication, despite certain controversies and language, The Catcher in the Rye has become an all-time classic and one of the most popular “coming of age” novels.

It was also included in the lists of the 100 best English-language novels by Time Magazine and Modern Library.

I don't care if it's a sad good-by or a bad good-by, but when I leave a place I like to know I'm leaving it. If you don't, you feel even worse. - J.D. Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye)
1
I don’t care if it’s a sad good-by or a bad good-by, but when I leave a place I like to know I’m leaving it. If you don’t, you feel even worse.Chapter 1
Life is a game, boy. Life is a game that one plays according to the rules. - J.D. Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye Quotes)
2
Life is a game, boy. Life is a game that one plays according to the rules.Chapter 2
Game, my ass. Some game. If you get on the side where all the hot-shots are, then it's a game, all right - I'll admit that. But if you get on the other side, where there aren't any hot-shots, then what's a game about it? Nothing. No game. - J.D. Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye Quotes)
3
Game, my ass. Some game. If you get on the side where all the hot-shots are, then it’s a game, all right – I’ll admit that. But if you get on the other side, where there aren’t any hot-shots, then what’s a game about it? Nothing. No game.Chapter 2
People always think something's all true. - J.D. Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye)
4
People always think something’s all true.Chapter 2
I don't give a damn, except that I get bored sometimes when people tell me to act my age. Sometimes I act a lot older than I am - I really do - but people never notice it. People never notice anything. - J.D. Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye)
5
I don’t give a damn, except that I get bored sometimes when people tell me to act my age. Sometimes I act a lot older than I am – I really do – but people never notice it. People never notice anything.Chapter 2
Grand. There's a word I really hate. It's a phony. I could puke every time I hear it. - J.D. Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye Quotes)
6
Grand. There’s a word I really hate. It’s a phony. I could puke every time I hear it.Chapter 2
I'm quite illiterate, but I read a lot. - J.D. Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye)
7
I’m quite illiterate, but I read a lot.Chapter 3
What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though. - J.D. Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye Quotes)
8
What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.Chapter 3
All morons hate it when you call them a moron. - J.D. Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye Quotes)
9
All morons hate it when you call them a moron.Chapter 6
Almost every time somebody gives me a present, it ends up making me sad. - J.D. Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye Quotes)
10
Almost every time somebody gives me a present, it ends up making me sad.Chapter 7
That's the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty, even if they're not much to look at, or even if they're sort of stupid, you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are. Girls. Jesus Christ. They can drive you crazy. They really can. - J.D. Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye Quotes)
11
That’s the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty, even if they’re not much to look at, or even if they’re sort of stupid, you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are. Girls. Jesus Christ. They can drive you crazy. They really can.Chapter 10
People always clap for the wrong things. - J.D. Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye Quotes)
12
People always clap for the wrong things.Chapter 12
I'm always saying "Glad to've met you" to somebody I'm not at all glad I met. If you want to stay alive, you have to say that stuff, though. - J.D. Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye Quotes)
13
I’m always saying “Glad to’ve met you” to somebody I’m not at all glad I met. If you want to stay alive, you have to say that stuff, though.Chapter 12
I hate actors. They never act like people. They just think they do. - J.D. Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye Quotes)
14
I hate actors. They never act like people. They just think they do.Chapter 16
Certain things they should stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone. - J.D. Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye Quotes)
15
Certain things they should stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone.Chapter 16
If a girl looks swell when she meets you, who gives a damn if she's late? Nobody. - J.D. Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye Quotes)
16
If a girl looks swell when she meets you, who gives a damn if she’s late? Nobody.Chapter 17
If you do something too good, then, after a while, if you don't watch it, you start showing off. And then you're not as good any more. - J.D. Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye Quotes)
17
If you do something too good, then, after a while, if you don’t watch it, you start showing off. And then you’re not as good any more.Chapter 17
Every time you mention some guy that's strictly a bastard - very mean, or very conceited and all - and when you mention it to the girl, she'll tell you he has an inferiority complex. Maybe he has, but that still doesn't keep him from being a bastard, in my opinion. - J.D. Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye Quotes)
18
Every time you mention some guy that’s strictly a bastard – very mean, or very conceited and all – and when you mention it to the girl, she’ll tell you he has an inferiority complex. Maybe he has, but that still doesn’t keep him from being a bastard, in my opinion.Chapter 18
Who wants flowers when you're dead? Nobody. - J.D. Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye Quotes)
19
Who wants flowers when you’re dead? Nobody.Chapter 20
It's not too bad when the sun's out, but the sun only comes out when it feels like coming out. - J.D. Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye Quotes)
20
It’s not too bad when the sun’s out, but the sun only comes out when it feels like coming out.Chapter 20
It's funny. All you have to do is say something nobody understands and they'll do practically anything you want them to. - J.D. Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye Quotes)
21
It’s funny. All you have to do is say something nobody understands and they’ll do practically anything you want them to.Chapter 21
Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around - nobody big, I mean - except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff - I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be. - J.D. Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye Quotes)
22
Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around – nobody big, I mean – except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be.Chapter 22
Lots of time you don't know what interests you most till you start talking about something that doesn't interest you most. - J.D. Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye Quotes)
23
Lots of time you don’t know what interests you most till you start talking about something that doesn’t interest you most.Chapter 24
The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one. - J.D. Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye Quotes)
24
The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.Chapter 24
Among other things, you'll find that you're not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior. You're by no means alone on that score, you'll be excited and stimulatedto know. Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You'll learn from them - if you want to. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It's a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn't education. It's history. It's poetry. - J.D. Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye Quotes)
25
Among other things, you’ll find that you’re not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior. You’re by no means alone on that score, you’ll be excited and stimulated to know. Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You’ll learn from them – if you want to. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It’s a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn’t education. It’s history. It’s poetry.Chapter 24
If you had a million years to do it in, you couldn't rub out even half the "F*** you" signs in the world. It's impossible. - J.D. Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye Quotes)
26
If you had a million years to do it in, you couldn’t rub out even half the “F*** you” signs in the world. It’s impossible.Chapter 25
That's the whole trouble. You can't ever find a place that's nice and peaceful, because there isn't any. You may think there is, but once you get there, when you're not looking, somebody'll sneak up and write "F*** you" right under your nose. - J.D. Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye Quotes)
27
That’s the whole trouble. You can’t ever find a place that’s nice and peaceful, because there isn’t any. You may think there is, but once you get there, when you’re not looking, somebody’ll sneak up and write “F*** you” right under your nose.Chapter 25
Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody. - J.D. Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye Quotes)
28
Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.Chapter 26