Here’s a summary of Chapter 1 of “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger:
Catcher in the Rye Chapter 1 Summary
The novel opens with the first-person narrator, Holden Caulfield, addressing the reader directly from a mental institution where he’s receiving therapy. He begins by acknowledging that he’s been expelled from several prep schools and admits that he’s unreliable when it comes to providing detailed information about his early life and family.
Holden explains that he’s currently recuperating after experiencing a breakdown, which he describes as being triggered by feelings of alienation, cynicism, and dissatisfaction with the adult world. He hints that the story he’s about to tell will revolve around the events that led to his breakdown.
Holden reminisces about his younger brother, Allie, who died of leukemia at a young age, and his brother D.B., who’s now a successful writer in Hollywood. He also mentions his younger brother, Phoebe, and his parents, who he believes don’t understand him.
Holden expresses his disdain for pretentiousness and “phoniness” in people and the adult world, and he mentions his fondness for certain aspects of childhood, such as his love for the museum. The chapter sets the tone for the novel, introducing the reader to Holden’s complex and troubled character and hinting at his desire to protect the innocence of children, which becomes a recurring theme in the story.
Overall, Chapter 1 serves as an introduction to the novel’s central character, Holden Caulfield, and establishes some of the key themes and conflicts that will be explored throughout the book.