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Some authors create characters that appear briefly or not at all, but are a
significant presence. Even though he was dead, Allie affected the action, theme and
development of Holden.
The death of Holden's younger brother Allie played an important role in Holden's
actions. Holden could not deal with his death and showed it by causing physical harm to
himself. He did this to escape the pain he was feeling inside. Holden said that Allie was
"terrifically intelligent" and the "nicest" person. Because Allie died so young, Holden felt
that his innocence was taken away from him. This led to many of Holden's actions. Such
as, Holden acted out and pretended to be people so that you could deal with the pain he
felt inside. It caused Holden to condone something that he was strongly opposed to as a
mere escape from the present. This is a direct result of the strife Allie’s death left on
The theme of Catcher in the Rye was greatly influenced by Allie. Because of his
early death, Holden felt his innocence had been stolen. In reaction to this Holden felt it
was his responsibility to protect the innocence of all children. As a result he developed a
job that he would like to have-- "a catcher in the rye." He would stand at the edge of a
cliff and catch the kids who were about to fall off. This meant that if someone was about
to lose their innocence, Holden would save them. If it weren’t for Allie, Holden would
not feel obligated to act as a proctector of innocence.
Throughout the novel, Holden repeatedly asked Allie not to let him disappear.
Holden felt like he was becoming invisible to the work around him. He had great respect
for Allie and knew that if anyone could save him, Allie could. During one incident, Holden
calls for Allie. This marks his breakdown. It is then, because of Allie, that he realizes that
it is inevitable that he will grow up. Holden is put in a psychiatric hospital.
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finally begins to change. He finally stopped viewing things negatively and was returning
to school. By asking Allie to save him, he knew something was wrong. And later, as a
result of him calling to his brother, Holden is able to change.
Therefore, Allie played an important part in the story, even though he was dead.
His presence affected the action, theme, and development of Holden. Without Allie,
Holden could not have developed, acted, or thought in the way he did.