The novel explores the life of Holden Caulfield a teenager and a student in New York. The persona narrates whom the teenager boy is by identifying a variety of elements which renders him misunderstood in the society. He is somehow obsessed with girls, most of the time fails to do his school assignments, and other activities thinks everyone is fake since he feels disconnected from his biological parents. Besides, he has temper tantrum but also tries to find himself whether or not he fits to be within New York City.
He feels disserted since his brother Allie is dead as a result of Leukemia, his elder brother has moved to California, and his sister is at home with his parents. At sixteen years, he is in a boarding school where he feels he does not fit at all an element that compels him to think otherwise and wonder where is the best place for him.
While in his school where he boarding school, everything looks different in a negative way that renders him unable to grasp a thing in class. He is later expelled from school for getting less than the minimum pass required in all of his classes except two. Following the expulsion, instead of going home, he decided to loiter around within the streets of New York City. Being in the streets strikes his quest of connecting with people, and he comes across, old teachers, nuns, curb drivers and girls he meets at the bus station. What is amazing is that all his encounter instead of bringing him closer to people widen the gap even more and the feeling of isolation rejuvenates even further. In his life, he only finds out that he can connect despondently by Phoebe, her sister. However, the relationship is short-lived due to Holden’s feeling of much responsibilities towards her sister.
At the street life becomes too much than what he can sustain. The rundown compels him to move out to find a better place which can harbor him without problems and gets where he fits when. He decided to move to California to “rest” as he calls it when the rundown intensifies. However, what comes after that remains unknown to the readers leaving everybody in suspense of knowing whether or not the psychiatric facility has changed him and made him better.