Holden Caulfield Character Analysis

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Even though “The Catcher in the Rye” was written and set in the 1950s, Salinger's story about an observative, conscious teen who is struggling to find his own identity, maintains much interest and is suitable to readers today. Many teenagers can relate to Holden Caulfield's opinionated and sentimental personality, as well as the problems he faces. These problems include sexually related rendezvouses and eagerness for independence. Holden goes against the adult world around him, which to Holden is loaded with "phonies", searching for righteousness and truth, even though several of his actions would depict him as a "phony" himself. Towards the end of the book, Holden finds it harder to deal with living in the society he is in, while dealing with his worsening depression. Holden is by far sensitive and can be overly emotional sometimes. When his younger brother Allie died, Holden dealt with the dreadful event by breaking all the windows in the garage, "just for the hell of it." When he wakes up to find Mr. Antolini stroking his forehead, Holden leaves his apartment quickly, even though Holden identifies Mr. Antolini as a trusted mentor. Holden feels guilty about the death of his younger brother because he died so young. This feeling of guilt and the depression may help explain how overly sensitive Holden can be at times. Holden views himself as the "catcher in the rye", saving children and their innocence from going into the adult world that is crowded with "phonies." When he sees all the graffiti that says "fuck you", he becomes very distraught as the graffiti shows that the innocent world of children is already being affected by the vulgarness of the adult world. Holden exploits the "phony" world of adults often, such as when he li... ... middle of paper ... ...le to find a real friend who is able to talk to him. Lonely and at rock bottom, Holden returns to his family and is hospitalized at the end of the book. Holden Caulfield offers the reader an interesting view on dealing with teen problems and adult life through the eyes of a teenager suffering from depression. Depression and the death of his brother Allie play a significant role in Holden's personality, especially his sensitivity to people around him and the emotional response he has in certain situations. He is self-conscious of himself, but at the same time struggles for independence and individuality. He longs to keep his childhood, staying away from the adult world. However, Holden's story ends with saying "I sort of miss everybody I told about," implying that he has, at last, grown up and matured, and these experiences he has narrated are just boyhood memories.
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