Holden Caulfield

Holden Caulfield, 16 years old, is the main character and narrator in J.D Salingers novel “The Catcher in the Rye”. The novel is written completely from his perspective, so he gets well-known when reading it. Holden enjoys reading books and writing, but he hates movies. He’s rather tall and looks more mature than he actually is. A usual thing for him to do is to light up his cigarette and start walking down the streets of New York, eyeing on people and having an opinion on even the smallest things around him. He’s a young man who seeks for an escape from his life and his frustration and literally, tries to kill the time, because there’s really nothing notable to do in his life. His influence on other people is mostly upsetting them and getting them worried about him.

Holden gets kicked out of Pencey Prep, a university preparatory school as he fails almost all of his subjects. Although he seems to be quite intelligent, but the problem lies in his attitude. He doesn’t care about school, in fact he hates that place and the people in it. He thinks they’re all “phonies”. He rebelliously  leaves the school three days in advance before the Christmas holiday, as he sees no reason to stay there any longer. He goes straight to the train station and takes the next train to his home town, New York. He wants to keep the fact that he has been kicked out of school again as a secret from his parent’s, so he’s forced to spent the remaining three days in the city.

Holden has a strong personality. He’s very impulsive and ignores the consequences of his actions quite often. Sometimes he might just say something  very rude and inappropriate, but later regrets it rigorously. He gets these crazy ideas out of the blue that he’s very seriously willing to really do. For example, at the end of the book, he even decides to leave his family and hitch hike to the west coast, start working as a gas-boy at a gas station, pretend that he’s a def-mute so that he doesn’t have to have “any goddam stupid useless conversations with anybody” again and live there in a cabin for the rest of his life.

Holden has had a bumpy road in his life and he doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere. He doesn’t seem to get much pleasure from life and sometimes finds his whole life just meaningless. His emotions are like a rollercoaster: he might be in a deep desperation and almost willing to die, but then, all of a sudden he might cheer up from a tiny thing that he sees or remembers.

Holden’s childhood has had a major impact in his attitude towards life. He’s little brother, Allie, died when they both were still kids. He was one of the few persons Holden really liked and it’s obvious that he misses him a lot. This loss is probably one of the main reasons for Holden’s pessimistic view of life and hopelessness.

The only person who truly makes him happy is his little sister, Phoebe. She’s a very young girl, but clever for a girl in that age. She’s probably the closest person in Holden’s life. She’s to one who gets him to stay and not to go hitch hiking. The only part in the book when Holden is fully and definitely happy, is when he watches Phoebe go around in a carousel. He probably sees her so full of life and joy that it fills his heart too.

All and all, Holden feels very real and is one of the most credible chapters I know. He’s definitely a character that people identify themselves with. Holden is the guy for you to share all your misery, frustration, excitement, joy and rebelliousness with.



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Johannes.S
    Nov 20, 2010 @ 16:02:41

    You really seemed to understand how to do a character analysis. This analysis is amazingly profound. If someone doesn’t get a good picture of Holden here he/she doesn’t going to get it in any way…

    I’m getting very good picture of his personality trough this text. It was good when you told that Holden’s childhood had been the major impact to his attitude because I wanted to know why he is like that.

    I couldn’t access your mindmap for some reason but it’s ok after the great analysis.

    Well Done.


  2. Rosa Piirinen
    Nov 19, 2010 @ 08:17:55


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