The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye en la cultura contemporánea:

Material proporcionado por Aline Benard Padilla (2009-2):


  • In an episode of American Dad!, Roger reveals a secret message in The Catcher in the Rye, which tells the location of Osama Bin Laden, also commenting that it’s a ‘Filthy, filthy book’.
  • In an episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, an alien frat member asks if another character is holding (as in marijuana), then, as a pun, he asks if “Holden Caulfield is coming to the party.”
  • In the Canadian TV show “Trailer Park Boys” the character Bubbles says ” With me and kitties it’s kinda like that book Catcher in the Rye, did you ever read that one? I’m kinda like the guy who looks after the kitties in the park.”
  • In the Boy Meets World episode “Poetic License: An Ode to Holden Caulfield”, Shawn has written a poem called “An Unpublished Manuscript for J.D. Salinger”. Without knowing the author, Cory asks, “And haven’t we had just about enough of Catcher in the Rye? I mean, what’s [Salinger] written lately?”
  • In the Criminal Minds episode “The Last Word”, both murderers use character names from the novel to communicate with each other, in reference its alleged popularity with murderers.
  • In an episode of Dilbert, a man working at the complaints department of a company uses the fake name Holdem Callfielder when answering the phone.
  • In an episode of Drake and Josh, Drake is asked what his favorite 20th century novel is. He says his favorite novel is The Catcher in the Rye. His teacher responds with “Wrong.”
  • In the episode of Fairly Oddparents, Timmy is seen bowling with books substituted for bowling pins. The Catcher In The Rye is being utilized as the front pin.
  • In the Family Guy episode “Peterotica“, one of the erotic novels Peter writes is called Catcher in the Eye, a reference to ejaculation. This gag was edited from television versions and kept for DVD.
    • In another Family Guy episode, “The Kiss Seen Around the World“, a character continually harasses Peter for being “a big phony”. During the credits this character is identified as Holden Caufield.
  • In an episode of Hey Arnold!, Arnold has the task of finding a reclusive children’s author named Agatha Caulfield.
  • In the My Life as a Teenage Robot episode “The Boy Who Cried Robot”, a man wearing sunglasses and a trenchcoat approaches a Bookmobile and asks the driver for a copy of The Catcher in the Rye. The driver grows irritated upon his request and responds, “Not today, Ed.”
  • In “My Name is Earl” Crabman creates many friends on BuddyBook, one being Holden Caufield. Crabman states that he lives in New York and his Occupation is “catcher”
  • In The Simpsons episode “Radioactive Man” (1995), in which Hollywood movie makers come to Springfield, there is a banner hung across the main street that reads “We [heart] Phonies”, presumably a reference to Holden’s disdain for “phonies”.[43] In the episodes “The Dad Who Knew Too Little” and “24 Minutes“, Lisa’s pet peeve is also said to be phonies. In the episode “Krusty Gets Busted“, Krusty holds a copy of the novel upside down, which refers to Mark David Chapman‘s arrest and obsession with the novel.
  • In South Park the episode The Ring Kenny is at a book store and a promo poster in the background entitles “The Catcher in the Rough”
  • In Will & Grace, Jack asks Karen to accompany him somewhere, to which she replies, “I can’t honey, I’m going to my Christian Book Club. This week we’re burning The Catcher in the Rye.”
  • M*A*S*H a wounded soldier talks about the book while he is in post-op.
  • While in Thailand Korean Pop group SHINee featured the items in their bags. Among the items they boy’s carried was the book The Catcher in the Rye in Minho’s bag.
  • In the J-drama Smile Hana attempts to steal a copy of The Catcher in the Rye from a bookstore.

Video games

  • In the action game Postal², one of the errands is to return a library book titled “Catch Her in the Eye”.


  • John Fowles‘s 1963 novel The Collector uses The Catcher in the Rye as “one of the most brilliant examples of adolescence” in popular culture, possibly under a moral light.[45] In it, Miranda encourages her kidnapper Clegg to read Catcher, thinking he might relate to Holden Caulfield’s alienation.[15] However, Clegg finds Holden’s actions unrealistic given Holden’s wealth and status, and “[doesn’t] see much point in it.” In the film adaptation of The Collector, this conversation and Clegg’s attitude toward the novel and popular culture is subdued.[46] The Collector novel has itself been linked to several serial killers.[15]
  • In his humor book This Book Sucks (based on MTV‘s Beavis and Butt-head characters), Mike Judge mentions the novel among a list of popular literature titles. The Beavis and Butt-head characters mistakenly believe that the main character (whom they believe is actually named “Catcher”) calls everyone “phones”.
  • The Frank Portman novel King Dork is centered around ‘life-changing’ books, The Catcher in the Rye most prominently. The protagonist is arguably a Holden Caulfield-esque outcast, but at the same time hates The Catcher in the Rye. The protagonist criticises fans of the book, calling them the Catcher Cult, and says that pretending to love The Catcher in the Rye is a surefire way to get better grades. However, in the end he says that he likes the novel. An obvious reference to the book is King Dork’s jacket cover, which is a 1985 Bantam copy of The Catcher in the Rye, ripped to shreds and scribbled over with the actual title of the book.
  • In Neal Shusterman‘s 1999 novel Downsiders, some of the school freaks at Icharus Academy are mentioned to be “boys who dressed in black and carried around copies of The Catcher in the Rye.”
  • In Francine Prose‘s novel After (2003), the main character is chastised for having the book in his possession because it is linked too strongly with violent behavior.
  • John David California wrote 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye (2009), an unauthorized sequel in which 76-year-old Holden escapes a retirement home for a journey in New York.
  • Brett Easton Ellis‘ novel Less Than Zero is said to be “The Catcher in the Rye for the MTV generation”.

I found the following introductory description of the character:

“Dice: <<A la gente le da miedo mezclarse con la circulación de la autopista de Los Ángeles.>> Aunque la frase no debiera haberme inquietado, se me queda grabada en la mente durante bastante tiempo. No parece que importe nada más. Ni el hecho de que yo tenga dieciocho años y sea diciembre y el vuelo haya sido duro y la pareja de Santa Bárbara, que estaba frente a mí en primera clase, se emborrachase a conciencia. Tampoco el barro que me había salpicado las perneras de los vaqueros, que notaba como frescos y sueltos a primera hora de ese día en un aeropuerto de New Hampshire. Tampoco la mancha en la manga de la camisa arrugada y sudada que llevo, que parecía nueva y limpia esta mañana. Ni el roto en el cuello de mi chaqueta de tela escocesa gris, que parece bastante más propia del Este que antes, en especial comparada con los ajustados vaqueros de Blair y su camisa azul pálido. Todo esto parece irrelevante al lado de esa frase. Parece más fácil oír que a la gente le da miedo mezclarse que: <<Estoy completamente segura de que Muriel está anoréxica>>, o escuchar al cantante de la radio que grita en las ondas magnéticas. Nada parece importarme excepto esa docena de palabras. Ni el viento cálido, que parece empujar al coche por la desierta autopista de asfalto, ni el leve olor a marihuana que todavía impregna el coche de Blair. Todo lo cual lleva a que soy un chico que vuelve a pasar un mes en casa y se encuentra con alguien a quien lleva cuatro meses sin ver, y a que a la gente le da miedo mezclarse.”[1]

Comic strips

  • The Frazz character Caulfield is named after Holden.
  • In St. Swithin’s Day, the teenage protagonist shoplifts a copy of The Catcher in the Rye from a bookshop so it can be found in his pocket “when this is all over.”


  • Aesop Rock‘s song “Save Yourself” contains the line “Naw man it wasn’t me, it was Holden Caulfield, brother / I just read and pulled the trigger.”
  • The Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution‘s song “Here’s to Life” on their debut EP A Call to Arms references Holden Caulfield by stating: “Holden Caulfield is a friend of mine, we go drinking from time to time”, and later addresses Caulfield’s author, J.D. Salinger: “Hey there, Salinger, what did you do? Just when the world was looking to you to write anything that meant anything, you told us you were through. And it’s been years since you passed away, but I see no plaque and I see no grave, and I can’t help believing you wanted it that way.”
  • Beastie Boys‘s song “Shadrach” contains the rhyme “Got more stories than J. D. got Salinger, I hold the title and you are the challenger.”
  • Bloodhound Gang‘s song “Magna Cum Nada (Most Likely To Suck)” begins with “Why try? I’m that guy Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye, put away ‘cause he wasn’t all there.”
  • Clem Snide‘s song “End of Love” references the book in the line “And the first thing every killer reads / is Catcher in the Rye.”
  • The Divine Comedy‘s song “Gin Soaked Boy” contains the line “I’m the catcher in the rye.”
  • Matthew Good‘s song “Waiting for the Great Destruction” from his album Left of Normal contains the chorus “Maybe at my funeral they’ll say i found the answers / they’ll say i had it coming / they’ll say i was just sittin’ around. Waiting for the Great destruction, I am waiting for Holden Caulfield to call.”
  • Guns N’ Roses released a song on their 2008 album, Chinese Democracy called Catcher in the Rye. It originally featured Brian May on guitar, but his parts were replaced for the final version. The song is said to be about Mark David Chapman.
  • Indochine‘s song “Des Fleurs Pour Salinger” (French for “Flowers For Salinger”) portrays Salinger as a hermit trying to get away from the world’s stupidity, and about the singer wanting to meet him. Near the end of the song, the following quote from the novel is whispered in French: “I thought what I’d do was, I’d pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes. I’d marry this girl, that was also deaf and mute […] I’d live near the woods but not in the woods.” (“Je ferais semblant d’être sourd-muet /Et j’épouserais cette fille /Sourde et muette /On vivra près d’un ruisseau, près des bois /Mais pas dans les bois…”)
  • Jedi Mind Tricks‘s song “Trinity” contains the line “The one who’s seated, on the throne within in a forcefield/You’ll get tossed and feel lost like Holden Caulfield/Raw deal…” Their song “Put Em In The Grave” contains the line “I’m like Mark David Chapman with a Salinger book/Stalk my enemy and let the fuckin’ silencer cook.”
  • Komeda‘s song “Catcher” on their album Kokomemedada refers to Holden Caulfield’s fantasy. Lyrics include “Who will catch your fall? Who will do it all?” and “There ain’t no catcher in the rye.”
  • The Lawrence Arms‘s song “The Disaster March” on their album The Greatest Story Ever Told contains the lyrics “There was a time and a place that was all full of mistakes. And a face that was all full of shit. I was frustrated and angry. I was more than alive. A catcher in the rye.”
  • The Offspring‘s song “Get It Right” contains the line “Like Holden Caulfield, I tell myself; There’s got to be a better way.”
  • Pencey Prep is named after the Holden’s school. Several of their songs reference the novel.
  • John Ralston‘s song “No Catcher in the Rye” on his album Needle Bed contains the line “Maybe there’s no catcher in the rye.”
  • Sundowner‘s song “Jackson Underground” contains the line “I was lost in the rye, so lost in the rye, I was lost in the rye.”
  • Too Much Joy‘s song “William Holden Caulfield” on their album Cereal Killers conflates the name of Holden Caulfield with the name of actor William Holden. It contains the lines “I’m afraid of people who like Catcher in the Rye / Yeah, I like it too, but someone tell me why / People he’d despise say, ‘I feel like that guy’ / I don’t wanna grow up, ‘cause I don’t wanna die.”

I took these because they were the ones I found most interesting. These and the rest can be found on:

Further References:

“Siendo fea y poco popular en la prepa, Cindy Jackson quedó fuera del mundo de las porristas y los jugadores de futbol americano, detalle que puede parecer irrelevante hoy, pero que a esa edad padeció como toda una tiranía. Le bastó leer The Catcher in the Rye de J.D. Salinger para entender que esto no se limita a un capricho adolescente, sino a una frustración que bien puede alcanzar los niveles del suicidio y del asesinato. ¿No resulta curioso que los adolescentes asesinos de la preparatoria Columbine, que se sintieron víctimas del mundo de los deportistas y las animadores, tuvieran bajo el brazo el mismo libro al momento de lanzar bombas y metrallas contra sus compañeros?”[2]

(Cindy Jackson es una mujer que se ha sometido a poco más de treinta cirugías estéticas. Y aunque somera, esta fue la única referencia textual que encontré sobre el mito del libro en relación con los estudiantes de Columbine).

I share the following quotes from Lullaby because when I was reading it the image of the cacher in the rye kept coming to my mind.  In brief, the novel revolves around a man who traces the origins of an ancient lullaby that puts children to sleep –literally. This song was sung to, not only to children when they were too uneasy by illness or totally sleepless, but to dying soldiers or exhausted elders. This man learns the lullaby by heart and this is what he thinks when he is pondering on which ‘figure’ to become/adopt –the ‘catcher’ or the ‘hunter’ (or killer), so to speak:

“Imagine if Jesus chased you around, trying to catch you and save your soul. Not just a patient passive God, but a hardworking, aggressive bloodhound.”[3]

After several pages of the character’s development, we read:

“Me and my failed Ethics. The same as Waltrand Wagner[4] and Jeffrey Dahmer[5] and Ted Bundy, I’m a serial killer and his is how my punishment starts. Proof of my free will. This is my path to salvation.”[6]

The passage may serve as a start point, not only for toying with the alleged relation between the book and some serial killers, but to see how the figure of the ‘catcher’ still lives in nowadays literature and it has indeed merged with some features of certain psychological profiles.

On Serial Killers:

  • Robert Rosen‘s biography Nowhere Man: The Final Days of John Lennon contains a description of Mark David Chapman’s sentencing hearing, in which the murderer reads from The Catcher in the Rye. The section is called “Chapter 27,” a reference to Chapman’s belief that by killing Lennon he’d write the missing chapter of The Catcher in the Rye in Lennon’s blood.


“We learn that the Bible and the Koran are reading favorites among serial killers, along with Sallinger’s The Catcher in the Rye (because the hero is convinced that other people are all phonies, an adolescent scenario the killer can identify with) and John Fowles’ The Collector.” (I found this one lying around the web and I can’t remember the source.)

About this one, Ted Bundy[7] said something like this: “I’m an educated man and fond of Good ol’ Holden…”

It is also said that when the police finally found Jeffrey Dahmer –the Milwaukee Butcher, who abused, killed, mutilated, ritualized and even cannibalized around 16 male teenagers– and broke into his house police procedure had to be followed strictly after removing all the remains, so everything had to be inventoried. On the final list, among the titles found on the bookshelf there were listed five different copies/editions of The Catcher in the Rye.

Most of the information was scattered around the web. And some of the statements or the relations to the serial killers mentioned at the end may be believable or not, for it seems that from then on everything seems to become myth.

Comin Thro’ The Rye.
Burns Original Standard English Translation
Comin Thro’ The Rye.
O Jenny’s a’ weet, poor body,
Jenny’s seldom dry:
She draigl’t a’ her petticoatie,
Comin thro’ the rye!
Comin thro’ the rye, poor body,
Comin thro’ the rye,
She draigl’t a’ her petticoatie,
Comin thro’ the rye!
Gin a body meet a body
Comin thro’ the rye,
Gin a body kiss a body,
Need a body cry?
Gin a body meet a body
Comin thro’ the glen,
Gin a body kiss a body,
Need the warld ken?
Gin a body meet a body
Comin thro’ the grain,
Gin a body kiss a body,
The thing’s a body’s ain.
Coming Through The Rye.
O Jenny is all wet, poor body,
Jenny is seldom dry:
She draggled all her petticoats,
Coming through the rye!

Coming through the rye, poor body,
Coming through the rye,
She draggled all her petticoats,
Coming through the rye!

Should a body meet a body
Coming through the rye,
Should a body kiss a body,
Need a body cry?

Should a body meet a body
Coming through the glen,
Should a body kiss a body,
Need the world know?

Should a body meet a body
Coming through the grain,
Should a body kiss a body,
The thing is a body’s own.

[1] Bret Easton Ellis, Menos que Cero, Trad. Mariano Antolín Rato, Editorial Anagrama, &a ed., Barcelona, p.9.

[2] Mauricio Bares, Posthumano. La vida después de hombre, Almadía, Estuario Ensayo, Oaxaca de Juárez, 2007, p.34.

[3] Chuck Palahniuck, Lullaby, Random House, Anchor Books, NY, 2003, p.156.

[4] “Throughout the 1980s, Maria Gruber, Irene Leidolf, Stepanija Mayer and Waltrand Wagner together or separately lethally injected more than two hundred patients under their care at Leinz General Hospital in Vienna, Austria”. From:

[5] His crimes are mentioned further on.

[6] Chuck Palahniuck, Lullaby, p. 240

[7] Strangled several women and went to the chair.


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