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50 Catcher in the Rye Quotes for Existing in Society

Published on January 11, 2020 7:37 AM EST
50 Catcher in the Rye Quotes for Existing in Society

These Catcher in the Rye quotes capture the pessimism of the character Holden Caufield’s view of life as he moves through a transformative age of adolescence.

What can we learn from Holden Caufield’s pessimism?

The Catcher in the Rye is written by JD Salinger and is one of the most iconic pieces of literature of its time. While it was intended to be read by adults, it is usually enjoyed by teenagers because the book houses so many themes of angst, loneliness, and coming of age.

50 Catcher in the Rye Quotes for Existing in Society

Holden Caufield tends to have a pretty bleak outlook on life and society, so what can we learn from his pessimism?

Pessimism is a common characteristic of people Holden’s age, and he uses it as a way to point out society’s superficial views on most things, from movies to money. Really, from the Catcher in the Rye quotes below, we can learn to be more conscious of our existence.

Also check out our list of Good Will Hunting quotes as well as these Frankenstein quotes about the trueness of humanity.

Catcher in the Rye Quotes on Observing Others

1. “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.” – The Catcher in the Rye

2. “…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.” – The Catcher in the Rye

3. “I am always saying ‘Glad to’ve met you’ to somebody I’m not all glad I met. If you want to stay alive, you have to say that stuff, though.” – The Catcher in the Rye

4. “It’s funny. All you have to do is say something nobody understands and they’ll do practically anything you want them to.” – The Catcher in the Rye

5. “People are always ruining things for you.” – The Catcher in the Rye

6. “All morons hate it when you call them a moron.” – The Catcher in the Rye

7. “People never notice anything.” – The Catcher in the Rye

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8. “I hate actors. They never act like people. They just think they do.” – The Catcher in the Rye

9. “People always clap for the wrong reasons.” – The Catcher in the Rye

10. “Almost every time someone gives me a present, it ends up making me sad.” – The Catcher in the Rye

11. “It’s partly true, too, but it isn’t all true. People always think something’s all true.” – The Catcher in the Rye

12. “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.” – The Catcher in the Rye

13. “Who wants flowers when you’re dead? Nobody.” – The Catcher in the Rye

14. “If you sat around there long enough and heard all the phonies applauding and all, you got to hate everybody in the world, I swear you did.” – The Catcher in the Rye

15. “You can’t stop a teacher when they want to do something. They just do it.” – The Catcher in the Rye

Also check out these insightful V for Vendetta quotes about society and humanity.

Catcher in the Rye Quotes About Existence

16. “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.” – The Catcher in the Rye

17. “I like it when somebody gets excited about something. It’s nice.” – The Catcher in the Rye

18. “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.” – The Catcher in the Rye

19. “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.” – The Catcher in the Rye

20. “It was that kind of a crazy afternoon, terrifically cold, and no sun out or anything, and you felt like you were disappearing every time you crossed a road.” – The Catcher in the Rye

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21. “The goddam movies. They can ruin you. I’m not kidding.” – The Catcher in the Rye

22. “I think that one of these days… you’re going to have to find out where you want to go. And then you’ve got to start going there. But immediately. You can’t afford to lose a minute. Not you.” – The Catcher in the Rye

23. “Goddam money. It always ends up making you blue as hell.” – The Catcher in the Rye

24. “Life is a game, boy. Life is a game that one plays according to the rule.” – The Catcher in the Rye

25. “It’s not too bad when the sun’s out, but the sun only comes out when it feels like coming out.” – The Catcher in the Rye

26. “I live in New York, and I was thinking about the lagoon in Central Park, down near Central Park South. I was wondering if it would be frozen over when I got home, and if it was, where did the ducks go? I was wondering where the ducks went when the lagoon got all icy and frozen over. I wondered if some guy came in a truck and took them away to a zoo or something. Or if they just flew away.” – The Catcher in the Rye

27. “It always smelled like it was raining outside, even if it wasn’t, and you were in the only nice, dry, cozy place in the world.” – The Catcher in the Rye

28. “It’s really too bad that so much crumby stuff is a lot of fun sometimes.” – The Catcher in the Rye

Catcher in the Rye Quotes About Connections With Other People

29. “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 in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are. Girls. Jesus Christ. They drive you crazy. They really can.” – The Catcher in the Rye

30. “Mothers are all slightly insane.” – The Catcher in the Rye

31. “If a girl looks swell when she meets you, who gives a damn if she’s late?” – The Catcher in the Rye

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32. “I think if you don’t really like a girl, you shouldn’t horse around with her at all, and if you do like her, then you’re supposed to like her face, and if you like her face, you ought to be careful about doing crumby stuff to it, like squirting water all over it.” – The Catcher in the Rye

33. “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.” – The Catcher in the Rye

34. “Make sure you marry someone who laughs at the same things you do.” – The Catcher in the Rye

35. “I know he’s dead! Don’t you think I know that? I can still like him though, can’t I? Just because somebody’s dead, you don’t just stop liking them for God’s sake—especially if they were about a thousand times nicer than the people you know that’re alive and all.” – The Catcher in the Rye

36. “She was terrific to hold hands with. Most girls if you hold hands with them, their goddam hand dies on you, or else they think they have to keep moving their hand all the time, as if they were afraid they’d bore you or something.” – The Catcher in the Rye

37. “All you knew was, you were happy. You really were.” – The Catcher in the Rye

38. “Then the carousel started, and I watched her go round and round…” – The Catcher in the Rye

39. “Don’t tell people what you are thinking, or you will miss them terribly when you are away.” – The Catcher in the Rye

40. “If you weren’t around, I’d probably be someplace way the hell off. In the woods or some goddamn place. You’re the only reason I’m around, practically.” – The Catcher in the Rye

41. “I wouldn’t exactly describe her as strictly beautiful. She knocked me out, though.” – The Catcher in the Rye

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Don’t forget to also read these inspirational Little Prince quotes about life.

Catcher in the Rye Quotes About a Sense of Self

42. “I don’t exactly know what I mean by that, but I mean it.” – The Catcher in the Rye

43. “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.” – The Catcher in the Rye

44. “And I have one of those very loud, stupid laughs. I mean if I ever sat behind myself in a movie or something, I’d probably lean over and tell myself to please shut up.” – The Catcher in the Rye

45. “I’m the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life. It’s awful. If I’m on my way to the store to buy a magazine, even, and somebody asks me where I’m going, I’m liable to say I’m going to the opera. It’s terrible.” – The Catcher in the Rye

46. “I was trying to feel some kind of good-bye. I mean I’ve left schools and places I didn’t even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don’t care if it’s a sad good-bye or a bad good-bye, but when I leave a place I like to know I’m leaving it. If you don’t you feel even worse.” – The Catcher in the Rye

47. “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.” – The Catcher in the Rye

48. “Grand. There’s a word I really hate. It’s a phony. I could puke every time I hear it.” – The Catcher in the Rye  

49. “I can be quite sarcastic when I’m in the mood.” – The Catcher in the Rye

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50. “I can’t explain what I mean. And even if I could, I’m not sure I’d feel like it.” – The Catcher in the Rye

51. “That’s the whole trouble. When you’re feeling very depressed, you can’t even think.” – The Catcher in the Rye

52. “I don’t even know what I was running for—I guess I just felt like it.” – The Catcher in the Rye

53. “But what I mean is, lots of time you don’t know what interests you most till you start talking about something that doesn’t interest you most. I mean you can’t help it sometimes.” – The Catcher in the Rye

54. “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.” – The Catcher in the Rye

55. “If I were a piano player, I’d play it in the goddamn closet.” – The Catcher in the Rye

How can we learn to look at society differently through these Catcher in the Rye quotes?

The Catcher in the Rye is an iconic piece of literature highlighting the struggles of adolescence through the story of Holden Caufield. People often look to Catcher in the Rye quotes to encapsulate this idea Holden has of the superficiality of society. Written by JD Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye is known for exposing the flaws of society through the perspective of a young man.

Holden Caufield’s character is one who observes society to an extreme degree. He’s incredibly conscious of how other people act, and by looking through his eyes, we can understand a lot about the unconsciousness of society. Through that, though, we can change our own actions, and become more conscious of how we, as people in society, move through life.

What’s your biggest takeaway from these Catcher in the Rye quotes and lines? Do you have any other favorite quotes to add? Let us know in the comment section below.

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