Holden Caulfield : A Controversial Character Essay

Holden Caulfield : A Controversial Character Essay

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Holden Caulfield, a controversial main character in J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, is common and in many ways a true representation of an average teen going through adolescence. “Holden Caulfield is nor clown nor is he a tragic hero; he is a 16-year-old lad whose vivid encounter with everyday life is tragically humorous-or humorously tragic.” (Heiserman and Miller 8). Holden is constantly being discussed and interpreted to discern his true character. “Holden would find himself the subject, by 1981, of 344 essays and two reviews, 21 books, 142 references and articles, and 14 dissertations in the U.S. alone.” (Schriber 101). Holden faces many challenges that he must overcome throughout the novel. While overcoming the challenges set in front of him he is also dealing with “normal” teenage problems including being forced to grow old but yearning for innocence, the need for love and relationships, and fighting away insecurities within while searching for his true identity.
J.D. Salinger depicts Holden as a young adult being thrown into manhood, yet searching for innocence. “In childhood he [Holden] had what he is now seeking- non-phoniness, truth, innocence.” (Heiserman and Miller 6). Holden is not ready to grow up, make his own decisions, and plan for his future. Holden goes to private school, away from his home. Holden is continually transferring from school to school because of his inability to work to his full potential and his fearfulness of actually succeeding because he might become a phony. The only way that Holden can possibly get attention from his parents is to not do well in school and to be transferred yet again to another school. “ Holden decides to leave Pencey that very night, ahead of schedule, a pree...


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...d, content, and appreciated. The problem Holden faced was not only staying true to himself, but not letting the world affect the person he became.
J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye used the character Holden Caulfield as a means to demonstrate “normal” teenage problems including being forced to grow old but yearning for innocence, the need for love and relationships, and fighting away insecurities within, while finding his true identity. The reader identifies with Holden, thus interpreting the story through his eyes, and connects to the many problems, adventures, and situations that Holden goes through. “Holden Caulfield is a teenage boy rebelling against the hypocrisy of the world around him, refusing to conform to its expectations, and who is forever fantasizing about a highly romanticized utopian venue in which he can find solace and happiness.” (Bloom 183).

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