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Holden's Character in The Catcher In The Rye Essay


As children, we are all innocent, fearless, and highly oblivious to the issues around us. We learn and grow every day, and soon we are almost adults. Most children have a fairly easy journey growing up with maybe only a few bumps along the way. Some kids, however, have a more difficult time. Holden Caulfield is one of those kids. In The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D Salinger, Holden has fallen off the cliff and cant get back up. He has been expelled from school after school and can never seem to take anything seriously. Although he talks like grouchy old man, complaining about everything, Holden is a very perceptive character. He often observes how people are acting while using his favorite word, phony. Holden is lonely; no one understands him. He even asks a prostitute to come to his room just so he will have someone to talk to. In the novel, Holden constantly uses objects that are of importance to him for us to better understand the way he thinks.

Holdens red hunting hat is possibly one of the most noticeable symbols in the whole book. It represents his need to be unique and separate himself from everyone else. Though, at the same time, he is always saying when he is wearing it. The hat I bought had ear laps in it, and I put them onI didnt give a damn how I looked. Nobody was around anyway, (53). He is almost trying to advertise his wish to be separated from others. Though he doesnt wear the hat when he is going to see people he knows, or people that he thinks whose opinions matter. The hat is ridiculous, we know this when everyone comments on it. Even Holden knows the hat is strange. The reason I saw her, she had my crazy hunting hat on you could see that from ten miles away, (205). Holden also mentions that both Phoebe and Allies hair is red. He probably bought the hat in reminder to his siblings innocence.

Not only does Holdens hunting hat make him unique, but also his interest in the duck pond. The duck pond is consistent, which is exactly what Holden likes. Every year, the ducks come out in the spring but go away in the winter. This shows him that some vanishings come back. Unlike the death of his brother, Allie, which still haunts him. Holden wonders where the ducks go every winter, showing a more youthful, curious side to him. You know those ducks in that lagoon right near Central Park South? That little lake? By any chance, do you happen to know where they go, the ducks when it gets all frozen over? (60). Holden sees the pond as partly frozen and partly unfrozen. This is a metaphor describing where he feels he is in his life right now. At this point, the people around Holden want him to be an adult, whereas Holden doesnt want to grow up. It is also in a transition state, the ponds ice melting as the season turns from winter to spring, and in Holdens life, him turning from a child to an adult.

While the pond changes according to the seasons, the museum stays exactly the way it is every year. The displays in the museum are still and unchanging every time Holden visits them. The best thing, though, in that museum was that everything stayed right where it was. Nobodyd move, (121). This shows how Holden wants things to always remain the same. He wishes to live in a world where everything is predictable and never changing. In a world where he can fulfill his catcher in the rye fantasy of saving the kids before they fall over the edge. He wants the kids to remain unchanging, playing in the rye and never learning of the adult world. You take adults, they look lousy when theyre asleep and they have their mouths open, but kids dont. Kids look alright, (159). Holden is almost terrified of the outside world and what he does not know.

Like Holdens dream of becoming the catcher in the rye, he also takes great joy in helping kids. On Holdens way to the museum, he stops to help a girl tie her skates. This shows his love of kids and how he likes their naivety. She thanked me and all when I had tightened it for her. She was a very nice, polite little kid. God, I love it when a kids nice polite when you tighten their skates or something, (119). In Phoebes school, he notices that someone has written F*ck you on the walls. Holden is so bothered by this; Salinger writes, It drove me damn near crazy, (201). He attempts to wipe it off, but the writing has been scratched into the wall. I thought how Phoebe and all the other kids would see it, and how theyd wonder what the hell it meant, and then finally some dirty kid would tell them, (201). Holden proves his need to protect kids in any way he can. Since Holden thinks the adult world is bleak and frightening, he doesnt want Phoebe and her classmates to know what it means, or even see the writing. In a way, Holden is trying to protect them from knowing too much too early like he did.

Throughout the novel, J.D Salinger makes use of objects that let the readers better understand Holden Caulfield. Although Holden seems like just a teenager who is mad at the world, he is a lot deeper than that. He cares so much for children, proving this when he stops to tie the girls skates or how he aspires to be the catcher in the rye. In the end, he says that talking about people makes you miss them, showing that he is not as bitter as people may think he is. Although Holden has fallen off the cliff, he is making a slow recovery back up. He wants to apply himself at the next school he attends. Salinger proves that growing up isnt easy, especially for any teenager in the middle of the transition between childhood and adulthood.

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