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Catcher in the Rye

Holden Caulfied: Saint, Snob, or Somewhere In-between? Although J.D. Salinger has only one novel to his credit, that novel, The Catcher in the Rye, is recognized as an exceptional literary work. The key to the success of The Catcher in the Rye is the main character, Holden Caulfield. There are many different critics that view Holden in many different ways. Some believe Holden to be a conceited snob, while others see Holden as a Christ-like figure. It is my opinion, however, that Holden is somewhere in the middle. Holden Caulfield is a character who has a definite code of honor that he attempts to live up to and expects to as abide by as well. Since the death of his brother Allie, Holden has experienced almost a complete sense of alienation from the world around him. This alienation is evident in every part of his life. Holden is unable to relate to anyone at the three prep schools he has attended. While standing on Thomsen Hill, Holden cannot help but feel isolated when he observes the football game, “you were supposed to commit suicide or something if Old Pencey didn’t win” (Salinger 2). Not only does Holden feel isolated at the schools he has attended; he has this feeling when it comes to his family as well. Upon his return to New York City, Holden does not go home. Instead, he chooses to hide out from his family. According to Ernest Jones, “with his alienation go assorted hatreds – of movies, of night clubs, of social and intellectual pretension, and so on. And physical disgust: pimples, sex, an old man picking his nose are all equal cause for nausea” (Jones 7). Holden feels Previts 2 as though all of these people have failed him in some way or that they are all “phonies” or “corny” in some way or another. It is Holden’s perception of those around him as “phonies” and again according to Jones; “Holden’s belief that he has a superior moral standard that few people, only his dead brother, his 10-year-old sister, and a fleeting friend [Jane] can live up to” that make him a snob (7). Presenting Holden as “snobbish” hardly does him justice. Critics such Frederick L. Gwynn, Joseph L. Blotner, and Frederic I. Carpenter view Holden as a character who is “Christ-like in his ambition to protect children before they enter the world of destruction and phoniness” (Carpenter 24).

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