20 Most Memorable Lines from The Catcher in the Rye

Published in 1951, the Catcher in the Rye created a rustle in the literary scene and brought a shock to publishers and readers alike—a novel impact that even after 65 years since its original publication, the book continues to capture attention as one of the most controversial books in the history of the printed word.

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But in the face of all the poor labels and bad reputations that the book has acquired over the years, the Catcher in the Rye remains to this day as one of the most memorable American classic books, and its literary hero Holden Caufield continues to be remembered as an important icon and voice of youth—one that triumphantly captures the angst and rage of teenage rebellion and nonconformity.

Below are some of the most memorable lines from the rebel-dreamer of the Catcher in the Rye.

I was trying to feel some kind of a good-bye. […] I don’t care if it’s a sad goodbye or a bad goodbye, but when I leave a place, I like to know that I’m leaving it. If you don’t, you feel worse.

Look sir, don’t worry about me. I mean, I’ll be alright. I’m just going through a phase right now. Everybody goes through phases and all, don’t they?

I’m the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life. It’s awful.

I can’t explain what I mean. And even if I could, I’m not sure I’d feel like it.

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 feel like it. That doesn’t happen much though.

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I hate the movies like poison.

She wouldn’t move any of her kings. What she’d do, she’d get a king, she wouldn’t move it. She’d just leave it in the back row. She’d get them all lined up in the back row. Then she’d never use them. She just liked the way they look when they were in the back row.

Ask her if she still keeps all her kings in the back row.

I think if you really don’t like a girl, you shouldn’t horse around with her at all.

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 half in love with them, and then you never really know where the hell you are. Girls. They can drive you crazy. They really can.

There isn’t any night club in the world where you can sit for a long time unless you can at least buy some liquor and get drunk. Or unless you’re with some girl that really knocks you out.

I swear to God, if I were a piano player or an actor or something, and all those dopes thought I was terrific, I’d hate it. I wouldn’t even want them to clap for me. People always clap for the wrong things.

Goddamn money. It always end up making you blue as hell.

I hate actors. They never act like people.

I’d rather have a goddamn horse. A horse is at least human, for God’s sake.

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Boy, when you’re dead, they really fix you up. I hope to hell when I do die, somebody has sense enough to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddamn cemetery. People coming and putting in a bunch of flowers on your stomach on a Sunday and all that crap. Who wants flowers when they’re dead? Nobody.

How would you know you weren’t being a phony? The trouble is, you wouldn’t.

I keep picturing all these 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 what I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the eye and all.

I mean how do you know what you’re going to do till you do it.

Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.

Can’t get enough of the book? Here are 13 Things you might not know about The Catcher in the Rye.

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