The Catcher in the RyeIs Holden a sympathetic character? In other words, do you sympathize with him? Why, or why not?

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e-martin's profile pic

Posted on

Personally, I do sympathize with Holden. He is an introvert in a world of extroverts. He is a flawed person who is aware of his flaws. As much as his hyper-opinionated state of being might grate on some readers, I respond with pity instead of disdain. Holden's opinions are part of his weakness, I think, and reading his character this way it's hard not to feel sorry for him and to feel some hope for change in his future.

lmetcalf's profile pic

Posted on

I too just reread this novel for the first time in 25 years, and now as a teacher and an educator, I find myself sympathizing with him for very different reasons than I did when I was a teen.  Now, I wonder what psychological diagnosis he would fall under: ADHD?  Asperger Syndrome? something else on the autism spectrum? bipolar disorder? etc... I am frustrated by him but feel sorry for him for whatever is going on in his mind.

bullgatortail's profile pic

Posted on

It's funny how age changes the perception of some characters. When I was a teenager reading Catcher in the Rye for the first time (in the late 1960s), I sympathized with Holden a great deal. It was a turbulent time, and revolting against their parents was something with which every teen could identify. However, when I reread the novel again two years ago, Holden's attitudes sickened me. His hatred of virtually everything and everybody had no real foundation, and his excuse-making for every wrong turn showed an incredibly immature side that I didn't recognize four decades before. What seemed like an independent streak in Holden was simply an immature jerk badly in need of strong parental guidance and boundaries.

kiwi's profile pic

Posted on

I find it hard to really sympathise with Holden, as most of what he holds responsible for his 'crumby' life is down to his own perception. He has opportunities that I wish many of my students had today. That said, I can certainly empathise with Holden as I see his cocktail of malaise, anger, frustration and desparation in many of the young people I work with. I admire Holden as a constructed character, although I know I would find him exasperating and irritating in my classroom!

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