Character Analysis of Holden Caulfield of Catcher In The Rye


Length: 1006 words (2.9 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Excellent
Open Document
Need writing help? Check your paper »

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Text Preview

More ↓
Character Analysis of Holden Caulfield

Ever since its publication in 1951, J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye has served as a firestorm for controversy and debate. Salinger's portrayal of Holden, which includes incidents of depression, nervous breakdown, impulsive spending, sexual exploration, crudeness, and other erratic behavior, have all ascribed to the controversial nature of the novel. Holden embarks on a journey and through every turn in the road, he deals with conflicts within himself searching for the truth in a society full of falsity. Holden is by far the most complex character in the book. His role is surrounded by 2 main themes that serve as his inner conflicts: a critic towards society and an adolescent stuck between the world of childhood and adulthood. Both these themes are related to him through the two children in his life he respects most – his brother Allie and his little sister Phoebe. They play the biggest role in Holden's self-realization.
There are two Holden's in this play. One is the character and the other is the narrator. His honesty is entirely internalized. He admits his faults and lies in narration, but can't do the same with other people. I personally like reading stories where the main character is telling the story. In this way, I have noticed some contradictions in Holden's personality. He criticizes everyone in society because they are being phonies when he lies all the time leading him to be a phony himself. Right from the beginning of the story he starts to "shoot the bull" with his history teacher, Mr. Spencer, who had flunked him. In chapter 3, his first line is "I'm the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life." Even as he's leaving Pency Prep, he gives a fake name to the mother of one of his classmates. It seems to me, his criticism of the world first lies within himself. He has shut himself out from the world, which makes him an outcast. And by criticizing everything around him, it seems to be a way for Holden to justify how the world is a bad place and to grow up and leave adolescents behind is just something that no one should do.
Holden's journey takes him though a cross section of American society.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Character Analysis of Holden Caulfield of Catcher In The Rye." 123HelpMe.com. 11 Dec 2017
    <http://www.123HelpMe.com/view.asp?id=161092>.
Title Length Color Rating  
Character Analysis of Holden Caulfield of Catcher In The Rye Essay - Character Analysis of Holden Caulfield Ever since its publication in 1951, J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye has served as a firestorm for controversy and debate. Salinger's portrayal of Holden, which includes incidents of depression, nervous breakdown, impulsive spending, sexual exploration, crudeness, and other erratic behavior, have all ascribed to the controversial nature of the novel. Holden embarks on a journey and through every turn in the road, he deals with conflicts within himself searching for the truth in a society full of falsity....   [tags: J.D. Salinger] 1006 words
(2.9 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye Essay - Holden Caulfield is a strange character in the story The Catcher in the Rye. He is first seen this way by when he gets expelled from a school called Pencey Prep. He is expelled for flunking almost all of his classes. Holden then watches his school play in a football game from afar and decides he wants to say bye to his teacher. After that he decides to leave Pencey early and head home to New York. He goes out drinking and hitting on women while he is there and then goes to see his sister, Phoebe....   [tags: Holden Caulfield, character analysis]
:: 2 Works Cited
784 words
(2.2 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Analysis of A Catcher In the Rye's Holden Caulfield: Enemy of Himself Essay - Jerome David Salinger’s only novel, The Catcher in the Rye, is based on the life events shaping main character, Holden Caulfield, into the troubled teen that is telling the story in 1950. The theme of the story is one of emotional disconnection felt by the alienated teenagers of this time period. The quote, “ I didn’t know anyone there that was splendid and clear thinking and all” (Salinger 4) sets the tone that Holden cannot find a connection with anyone around him and that he is on a lonely endeavor in pursuit of identity, acceptance and legitimacy....   [tags: Character Development, Self Hate]
:: 8 Works Cited
1688 words
(4.8 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Essay on Analysis Of Holden Caulfield in J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye - In Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, Holden Caulfield is confronted with the difficulties of both humanity and life as he struggles to find direction, as well as a connection to a world which he has lost faith in. From the very beginning of the novel, the reader can appreciate and relate to Holden’s criticism and condemnation about society and the way people in society govern themselves. “Phoniness”, a reoccurring motif in the novel, is one of Holden’s most favorite conceptions, and is his catch phrase for describing the superf...   [tags: Character Profile, Phoniness] 1296 words
(3.7 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
The Catcher in the Rye Essay - Holden Caulfield is a peculiar teenager. He's hypocritical, cynical, dishonest, and most of all...confused. All of these traits add up to an unreliable narrator, to say the least. You can never take what Holden says at face value: you have to read between the lines. In between the lines lies the fact that he is extremely lonely, and that his fear of abandonment causes him to isolate himself in opposition to that. He often tries to cover this up from both himself and outsiders, hence the lying and contradictory nature of his thoughts....   [tags: Literary Analysis, Holden Caulfield, Character]
:: 1 Works Cited
1250 words
(3.6 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye Essay - Holden Caulfield’s experiences, and the transformation he undergoes in reaching a point where he “misses everybody” (Salinger 277), resonates much with the author’s experiences illustrated in the poem “Necessity for Irony”. In the poem, Eaven Boland expresses the irony of looking for something and later realizing that the thing you were looking for was already there—and now it is gone. He states that this realization “brings pain” since one recognizes the fallacy of his/her actions too late. Boland, “with [his] back turned to [his daughter]” (line 46), searched for beautiful things, thus ignoring the truly beautiful thing which he would grow to realize he missed....   [tags: Holden Caulfield, character and story analysis] 624 words
(1.8 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
The Catcher in the Rye - Character Analysis of Holden Caufield Essay - The Catcher in the Rye - Character Analysis of Holden Caufield In J.D. Salinger's novel The Catcher in the Rye, the main character, Holden Caufield, describes in detail the parts of his life and his environment that bother him the most. He faces these problems with a kind of naivety that prevents him from fully understanding why it is that he is so depressed. His life revolves around his problems, and he seems helpless in evading them. Among others, Holden finds himself facing the issues of acceptance of death, growing up, and his own self-destructiveness....   [tags: In J.D. Salinger The Catcher in the Rye] 748 words
(2.1 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Essay on The Complexity of Holden Caulfield - The Complexity of Holden Caulfield J.D Salinger writes from personal experience in his novel, The Catcher in the Rye. The American author lived in New York City and attended a Manhattan public school for most of his adolescence before attending a boarding school that he soon left. He also suffered a mental breakdown while serving in the army. His experiences were a major part in not only the plot of his novel, but in building the character of Holden Caulfield. As the male protagonist in this coming of age novel, Holden Caulfield was faced with several obstacles to overcome....   [tags: Character Analysis]
:: 14 Works Cited
1962 words
(5.6 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger Essay - Nostalgia can be considered an invertible feeling that everyone will experience at one point in their life. The definition of nostalgia is “a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations”. The Catcher in the Rye contains characters which follow the definition of nostalgia, to the point where it will affect their outcome in life, causing nostalgia to become an egregious trait. Everyone who overly desire or reliant on nostalgia can not be successful in life....   [tags: nostalgia, story and character analysis] 869 words
(2.5 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Innocent and Corrupt Characters in Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye Essay - The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger is a classical coming of age novel that deals with a youth’s mental adjustment to a modern world. Holden Caulfield, Salinger’s troubled protagonist, has a flawed view of the world where youth and integrity fights maturity and corruption. Salinger explores this dichotomy using a variety of motifs and symbols. In this novel, Salinger denotes innocence by the way Holden views a variety of characters. First, Jane Gallagher, Holden’s childhood friend, displays innocence through her actions, and Holden’s opinions of them....   [tags: literary analysis, character analysis]
:: 1 Works Cited
796 words
(2.3 pages)
Better Essays [preview]

Related Searches




From school, to bars, to the city, to his family, I think Salinger wants to portray how widespread phoniness has become. His relationship with his brother D.B. used to be something he respected until he moved out to Hollywood. Hollywood was a good place for Salinger to use because it's a place where we can understand the meaning of phonies. Holden refers to his brother as a prostitute who has given himself up for the money in Hollywood becoming a thing that he hates the most. It would make sense that Holden didn't like movies because it was something that required acting and being someone your not. Yet, he went to the movies pretty often which again shows me his hypocritical side.
The second theme is the most important because it shows us his transition phase from childhood to an adolescent to finally understanding adulthood. The first place I read where Holden starts to shut himself out from the world, is with Allies death. Holden caused himself physical pain by punching windows in his garage to avoid the emotional pain that comes with a close death, people who we call "cutters". I guess the reason why Allie means so much to Holden is because Allie is now preserved as a true innocent, never will he be affected by the phoniness of the world. In chapter 10 he talks a bit more about Phoebe, his younger sister. He can't say anything bad about her. He even appears charmed by her faults, such as misspelling the name of her girl detective in the story she writes. Holden even compares her to Allie. These two characters, along with Jane Gallagher, represent for Holden a sense of childhood and innocence. Jane Gallagher continues to occupy a great deal of Holden's thoughts, and the stories about her reinforce other themes that emerge throughout The Catcher in the Rye. The story about Jane Gallagher is there to remind the reader that Allie's death has had a major effect on Holden. For Holden, information about Allie remains secretive and private, to be shared only with certain people. This also gives more weight to the earlier chapter in which Holden writes a paper about the baseball mitt for Stradlater. This information, which he once considered to be so private, emerges as part of an essay written for others, indicating that Holden has been repressing certain emotions concerning his brother's death that may eventually emerge. Jane's role in the play may not have been a big one for the plot, but it is pretty significannot
towards Holden's mentality. He believes that Jane Gallagher has been abused by her alcoholic stepfather. This only strengthens Holden's idea that all authority figures are dangerous. This also elaborates part of the reason why Holden has such a jaded view of sexuality. He may associate it with actions such as Mr. Cudahy's predatory behavior toward Jane. Phoebe is still a child, Allie never had the chance to mature, and Jane exists for Holden as an innocent girl playing checkers. Those characters that represent an adult sensibility serve primarily as targets for Holden's jokes.

Almost all of the insight Caulfield spoke of were things that would not have been taught to him. Such as repeatedly displaying understanding of human nature, pretensions, and thought processes. However, despite his intuition, he applies his often cynical and pessimistic reasoning to almost everything. This fact illustrates ignorance and a level of immaturity.

Bibliography:
Salinger, J.D. "Catcher in the Rye"


Return to 123HelpMe.com