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In The Catcher in the Rye, what are Holden's personality traits? (I.e. Judgmental?) I...

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nicholasdragoon | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 3, 2012 at 6:25 PM via web

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In The Catcher in the Rye, what are Holden's personality traits? (I.e. Judgmental?) 

I would like at least 5 to go on. Thank you so much!!!

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 3, 2012 at 10:29 PM (Answer #1)

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In The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield is a conflicted teenager, struggling with his angst and anxiety of growing up in a world where he sees all adults as "phonies." Holden is hypocritical at times, cynical and sometimes naive. In spite of his cynicism, his dream to be "the catcher in the rye" is naive and it is an idealized concept of being one who protects children. The irony is that this is an adult role, something Holden would have a profound conflict with. In Chapter 22, he tells Phoebe: 

And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff--I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I'd do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be. 

Holden is cynical but he's also a dreamer. He is innocent but portrays himself as wiser than others his age. Holden claims he would like to escape from the world. In Chapter 25, he considers moving out west where no one will know him. And yet, he wants to be the "catcher in the rye," a symbolic position of one who would save the world. Holden is obsessively introspective, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. He is also a typical teenager, fraught with conflicts and he is anxious about becoming a part of the adult world which he has spent most of his teenage years rebelling against. 

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