Frazer S.




The Catcher in the Rye (spoilers, obviously)

The book I'll be redesigning is "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D.Salinger. I'd been meaning to make progress on this for a while but it kind of got pushed to the bottom of my lists since I had assignments and essays to do for university, but hopefully actually writing on here about it will help me keep on track.

Brief summary

The book is set in the 1950s (think Madmen era) and and follows 16 year old Holden Caulfield's account of events in the few days between him getting kicked out of yet another school and travelling round New York before christmas. As the narrative is through holden's eyes rather than in third person, the plot is not as important as the psychological analysis behind the events.


  • Alienation - Holden alienates himself to protect himself, he uses his red hunting hat as a symbol of this to show how uniqueness, how much better he is than everyone else and how he's above interacting with them. However, the truth is that other people usually confuse and overwhelm him.  
  • Growing up - This novel is a coming of age novel, however Holden is constantly trying to resist this. Holden fears change and is overwhelmed by complexity, as his thoughts about the Eskimos and Indians in the Natural History Museum show. Holden's view that adults are "phonys" is the fantasy world he has made up in his head that adulthood is a world of superficiality and hypocracy, while childhood is a world of curiosity, innocence and honesty.
  • The adult world - "Phonies" is Holden's favourite word to desribe adults throughout the book, it also describes the superficiality, hypocrisy, pretension, and shallowness that he encounters in the world around him. However, on many occasions Holden is guilty of the same points which he judges on others. On the train to New York, he meets the mother of a student he used to live with and lies to her about how great her son is even though he hates his guts.


  • Relationships 
  • Intimacy  
  • Sexuality 
  • Loneliness 
  • Lying 
  • Deception 


  • The "Catcher in the rye" - Holden misunderstands the poem about the "Catcher AND the rye", he creates his own understanding about it and places himself in the poem as one who catches children leaving the rye - the rye being childhood surrounded by a cliff which shows Holden's fear of adulthood.
  • Holden's red hunting hat - Holden's protection from the outside world and his shield when in fact it is a symbol of his isolation. Symbol of uniqueness and originality. 
  • Museum of Natural History - the displays at the museum appeal to Holden because they are frozen and unchanging, this represents the world Holden wishes to live in.
  • Ducks in the Central Park Lagoon - Holden keeps on asking about where the ducks go during winter, this is childish side coming out as children ask lots of questions and it also represents his fear of change.

Personal analysis (which will most likely be wrong) of existing covers:

  1. Holden's red hat isolated on the page. This reflects Holden's self-protection in terms of his isolation. Hand written lettering matches the illustrative style of the hat.
  2. Yet again isolates Holden's hat but includes more elegent lettering.
  3. Represents Holden as a grumpy old man, which is how he seems to be for a alot of the book. Also plays on the ducks leaving central park.
  4. Shows the rye with what looks like a child leaving it - represents coming of age?
  5. Holden looks isolated. Shows New York so tells the reader that he's on his own in the city.
  6. Just shows a city, would this tell the reader that we'll be shown round a city?
  7. This cover reflects the city , I think this would show how Holden's view on "phonys" reflect his actions more so than the people he's judging.
  8. Doesn't tell us much but the type looks great! This would play on the customer's curiosity to make them read the book.
  9. Shows the rye and leads the reader to explore the importance of the rye.
  10. Shows an isolated and alone holden in his school clothes.
  11. Show the ending of the book - a moment where Holden watches his sister on a carousel and retreats into childhood and away from adulthood's threats of intimacy and sexuality. Also shows the city in the background.
  12. Shows nothing but text to make the reader curious about the contents and make them want to read it to understand why it's empty.

Here's a great pinterest board which I'm using for my inspiration. There's a lot of minimal but clever ideas on there which will help me come up with the same in the design ideas stage.


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