The Perks of Being the Catcher in the Rye

Anne Weston, Rebecca Banfill, Troy Reedy, Angel Mount

Discussion Questions

  • Which protagonist do you feel is more reliable, Charlie or Holden, and how does it affect your reading of the book? Why do you feel this way?

  • Charlie and Holden both exhibit difficulty establishing and maintaining relationships - especially with others their own age. Why do you think that they have such difficulties? What advice would you give them to help with their relationships?

  • Holden is growing up in the late 1940s and Charlie is growing up in the early 1990s. What are some of the pressures that Holden and Charlie face as they are coming of age in these respective time periods and how do they compare to the pressures of growing up in the 2010s?

  • We know the major cause of Charlie's mental issues is the sexual abuse he was subjected to as a child. What do you think are the causes of Holden's mental issues? What in the text makes you think that way?

  • Both protagonists have close relationships with their sisters, but they express that affection in different ways. What personality factors do you think contribute to these differences?

  • Both Holden and Charlie have love interests in their stories, ( Jane and Sam, respectively). What similarities and differences can you spot between the two boys' relationships with these women?

  • Each of the two protagonists has a teacher mentor, Mr. Antolini for Holden and Bill for Charlie, that they look up to. What similarities and differences exist in these two relationships?

  • Despite all the similarities between Holden and Charlie’s situations, each boy approaches life differently. Why do you think that is?

  • Do Holden's and Charlie's views towards homosexuality represent a change in societal views of homosexuality? If so, how?

  • What are the perks of being a wallflower?

  • Why does Holden want to be the catcher in rye?

Class Activities


Holden and Charlie Picture Compairson
For this activity, students will work in pairs and will be asked to create a picture comparison of Charlie and Holden. Similar to the comparison found in The Absolutely True Diary of A Part-Time Indian, students will need to include a physical representation of what they think the characters look like, five characteristics of each character, one way in which the outside world views them, dialogue, and setting/scenery that is fitting for each character. The students will create this project using markers and posterboard. This activity will take 30-40 minutes to complete. Each group will have 1-2 minutes to present their comparison to the class.

Comparison Activity

Facebook Class Activity:
In this activity, students will be asked to create a fake Facebook page for either Charlie or Holden using Fakebook, focusing on the relationships that Holden and Charlie have (or do not have). Once students have finished making their character's Facebook profile, they will pair up with a peer who chose the other character to discuss their respective profiles. Students will talk about why they included the profile information, friends, and wall posts that they did as well as similarities and differences between the profiles for their characters. Finally, students will discuss what the profiles that they created say about Charlie and Holden's relationships.

This activity should take 30-40 minutes for students to complete and requires computer lab access. Assuming that the class period lasts 50 minutes, students should have 10-20 minutes to discuss their profiles.

The following links will bring you to a suggested activity instruction sheet and an example of a "Fakebook" for Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye, respectively.

Facebook Activity
Holden Caulfield "Fakebook" Example

Letter Writing Activity
In this activity, students will choose one of the letters from The Perks of Being a Wallflower and write a response letter back to Charlie. The twist is that they will be writing as if they are Holden responding to Charlie. The goal is for students to really think about who Holden is as a person to develop a deeper understanding of the character. The activity will also help the students gain a better idea of who Charlie is because they will need to closely examine one of his letters. Students will be given 30-35 minutes to write, followed by about 10 minutes of discussion and sharing as a class.

Letter Activity

Original Multimedia


A mash up of the "Perks of Being a Wallflower" movie trailer, with our own footage of "The Catcher in the Rye". Includes quotes from each novel and music from "Perks."















Additional Resources

  • Shmoop Summary and Analysis of The Perks of Being a Wallflower
    • This website can be used to help find specific events or characters of The Perks of Being a Wallflower quickly. It also provides useful analysis and explanations of details that may be vague in the novel.
  • SparkNotes for The Catcher in the Rye
    • This website can be used to help find specific events or characters in The Catcher in the Rye quickly. It also includes a useful video summary of The Catcher in the Rye that could be beneficial for students to watch. Finally, it provides some (although certainly not all) interpretations for events, symbols, and themes within the novel.
  • Fakebook
    • This website provides a template for students to create a fake Facebook page for a character in the Facebook activity explained above.
  • Swing Music Youtube Clip
    • ThisYoutube clip of some classic Swing Music pieces can be used to show the type of music Holden most likely listened to while at the various clubs and bars he visited. This may be compared to the music that Charlie listens to commonly while he is at parties with his friends. By comparing music, students can understand differences in the time periods that Holden and Charlie are growing up in.
  • Youtube Clip of "Comin Through the Rye"
    • This Youtube clip of the song, "Comin Through the Rye," sung by Marion Anderson in 1945, can be used to show students the song that Holden mishears but still enjoys listening to in Catcher in the Rye. This song acts as a great supplement to understanding the title and one of the major themes about growing up in the novel; moreover, it also can give students a glimpse into the past with respect to the music that was popular during the novel's time setting.
  • Charlie's Playlist from "Perks:
    • This is an 8tracks.com playlist containing the music from Charlie's mixtape to Patrick in "Perks of Being a Wallflower".
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower trailer
    • This is the official movie trailer for the film adaptation of "The Perks of Being a Wallflower". Pieces of this were used in our multimedia project.
  • Asleep by the Smiths
    • "Asleep" was Charlie's favorite song in "Perks". This is a youtube version of the official music video, and it is also the soundtrack of our multimedia project.
  • AVS free video editing software
    • AVS is a free video editing software available for download, and it is what was used to create our multimedia project.
  • Aine's Realm
    • This blog reviews books. I used the artwork from The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian review to use as an example in the Picture Comparison activity.
  • Selection of Letters Available for The Letter Activity
    • These are the letters selected for the Letter Activity. Students can use this hand-out to respond as they believe Holden would to Charlie's letters. The are taken from The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephan Chbosky.