Mid-book Expository Essay for "The Catcher in the Rye"


4 3  2 1
Ideas (Thesis and Quotes)

(14-15 points)

1. Clear, original thesis     2. Strong evidence 3. Insightful, thoughtful analysis

(12-13 points)

1. Clear thesis 
2. Fairly strong evidence 3. Thoughtful analysis

(9-11 points)

1. Somewhat unclear thesis      
2. Weak evidence
3. Minimal analysis

(0-8 points)

1. Confusing or no thesis  2. Little or no evidence 3. Lacks analysis

(5 points)

1. Engaging introduction that includes thesis and direction   2. Paragraphs follow thesis direction and include topic sentences     
3. Transitions help paper flow 4.Thoughtful closing tightens the argument

(4 points)

1. Interesting introduction that includes thesis and direction  2. Paragraphs follow thesis direction and include topic sentences, for the most part     3. Some transitions help flow       4. Closing tightens the argument

(3 points)

1. Introduction creates little interest and may not include thesis 2. Few paragraphs follow thesis direction and do not include topic sentences  3. Very few transitions  4. Closing is a just a simple summary

(0-2 points)

1. Introduction creates no interest and does not include thesis       
2. Paragraphs are not organized 3. Lacks transitions  4. Closing lacks even a basic summary
Voice and Word Choice

(10 points)

1. Lots of variety and vivid words draw pictures in the reader's mind   
2. Choice of words is natural 3. Word choice is formal

(8-9 points)

1. Some variety and vivid words draw pictures in the reader's mind                
2. Occasional inaccurate use of words           3. Word choice is mostly formal

(6-7 points)

1. Little variety or interest in word choice                     2. Inaccurate use of words      3. Some use of informal language

(0-5 points)

1. Words do not capture the reader's interest.   2. Many inaccurate word choices  
3. Informal language

(5 points)

1. No errors in grammar or spelling

(4 points)

1. Few errors in grammar and spelling

(3 points)

1. Many errors in grammar and spelling

(0-2 points)

1. Excessive errors in grammar and spelling

  • Ideas
    • Contain a thesis (aka, an argument)
    • Contains at least three quotes that support the argument
  • Organization
    • Contain an intro, body (could be one or more paragraphs), and closing
    • Thesis is the last sentence of the intro

_________/5 points: Presentation12 pt. font, 1” margins, Times N.R., Double-spaced, name and date in top corner

_________/40  TOTAL POINTS

Choose a topic, find quotes, then form a thesis


  • Salinger uses ____________ as a symbol to demonstrate…
  • The symbol, ____________, is important because it shows…
    • Red
    • Ducks
    • Red hat
    • Prostitute
    • Museum
    • etc.

Age and Growing Up

  • Holden likes Allie and Phoebe because…
  • Holden’s encounters with women demonstrate…
  • Holden does not have sex with the prostitute because…
  • Holden’s negative encounter with the prostitute shows…
  • Holden is still a child in that that…

Holden’s Breakdown

  • Holden’s biggest problem is…
  • Holden’s fantasies reveal…
  • Holden is still influenced by his brother’s death, because Holden’s behavior shows…
  • Holden continually drops out of school because…

Phoniness (Stradlater, the girls from the Lavender Room, Faith Cavendish, the movies, etc.)

  • Holden’s obsession with phoniness shows…


Quote 1 and page number:

Quote 2 and page number:

Quote 3 and page number:

Quote 4 and page number:

Thesis statement:

Example Essay


Mary O'Malley

22 September 2012

The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, depicts a teenager’s struggles to fit into the world.  He drops out of school, avoids his family, and ostracizes himself from people, because he views the world as phony and corrupt.  At an important, low moment in the story when Holden meets a prostitute, Holden indulges in a movie-like fantasy.  This fantasy is symbolic because it reveals that Holden’s biggest problem is that he cannot accept reality and is desperate to create a new world for himself.

    From the moment Holden reveals he is dropping out of Pencey Prep, the reader can see his steady decline.  Holden’s lowest moment, however comes after he has an uncomfortable encounter with a prostitute and her pimp.  After the pimp beats up Holden, Holden says, “I sort of started pretending I had a bullet in my gut” (103-104).  Instead of acknowledging the fact that the pimp punches Holden, he dramatizes the event.  As Holden’s fantasy continues, Holden describes, “I’d hold onto the banister and all, with this blood trickling out of the side of my mouth a little at a time” (104).  He paints a scene that reminds the reader of any great, Hollywood action movie.  Holden imagines that he goes to the elevator, opens it, and sees Maurice standing there, and says, “he’d see me with the automatic in my hand and he’d start screaming at me, in this very high-pitched, yellow-belly voice, to leave him alone” (104).  In this fantasy, Holden is the Hollywood action hero.  After giving Maurice, “six shots right through his fat hairy belly,” Holden imagines he would “crawl back to [his] room and call up Jane and have her come over and bandage up [his] guts” (104).  Not only is Holden the hero, but he also gets the girl.  However, after he is finished with this fantasy, Holden says, “What I really felt like, though, was committing suicide.  I felt like jumping out the window” (104).  Holden knows that this fantasy will not last.  This scene symbolizes Holden’s desire to shun reality and to create a new reality for himself.
    Although this is one short scene, it clearly demonstrates Holden’s struggles to fit into the world.  This symbolic scene is just one example of Holden’s desperate desire to withdraw from the world that he sees as phony and corrupt.