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Holden Caufield from The Catcher In the Rye

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Holden Caufield from The Catcher In the Rye

A family can be classified as one of many things. It can be a group of people living under one roof; a group of people of common ancestry; or even a unit of a crime syndicate like the Mafia (Merriam Webster). But to Holden Caulfield, the main character of J.D. Salinger’s novel The Catcher In The Rye, his family was what we as a society normally think of when that word is spoken. There are always variations on a theme, but a typical family consists of two parents and at least one child. During the 1950’s when the novel is set, adoption was virtually unheard of and divorce could be considered a sin where as today these are common practices. But one thing about family that has prevailed through the decades is the family’s affect on a person’s existence. The way a person interacts with their family can affect them for the rest of their lives. And the way a family interacts with a specific person can affect that person for the rest of their life. It is a two way relationship which is often complicated and confusing, especially to Holden.

Holden’s family is obviously very important to him. The novel opens with talking about his parents and his brother. Holden negatively criticizes them to hide the fact that he truly loves them. But, one would ask, how can you love those you never see? Holden is constantly being shipped from one boarding school to another. This absence between him and his parents intensifies his general alienation from everyone. Holden’s only real love in the family is for his sister Phoebe. The bond and respect between brother and sister can not be broken no matter how far the distance between them. When Holden arrives back in New York, he immediately wanted to call someone; his sister Phoebe. "She wouldn’t’ve cared if I’d woke her up…" (Salinger 59) Many people her age would not appreciate being woken up that late at night, especially by their brother, but there is a mutual respect between Phoebe and Holden that would allow for this event to occur. Through out the whole novel, this relationship continues because she is his little sister and he would never hurt her. In today’s world, this type of relationship is next to impossible.
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