In The Catcher in the Rye, who is Harris Macklin?

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jeff-hauge's profile pic

jeff-hauge | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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Holden roomed with him for two months at Elkton Hills. He was a bore with a very raspy voice. But he could whistle great.Holden never told him he thought he was a great whistler (123).

Through the intrusive memory, Holden is able to ease his anxiety about girls marrying the "wrong" boy. He creates a peace in his mind that states that bores might have secret talents that he doesn't know about and that bores do not hurt anyone.

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teachersage | (Level 2) Educator

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Holden holds up Harris, a very minor character and a roommate of his at Elkton Hills, as an example of a "bore." He says that Harris was very intelligent, but he had a raspy voice, never stopped talking and never said anything Holden was interested in hearing. But Holden, an adolescent trying to work his way through life and relationships, takes the time to ponder Harris in a more nuanced way, rather than simply writing him off as worthless because he's boring. He notes that Harris was a great whistler and that he whistled jazz tunes so well that "it could kill you." He says he put up with Harris for two months because of his talent as a whistler. This leads Holden to think that perhaps he shouldn't be so judgmental when he hears of some "swell girl" getting married to a bore: bores, he says, don't hurt anyone and also they might have secret talents that he doesn't know about that redeem them. Through Harris, Salinger shows some of Holden's willingness, despite his adolescent self-absorption, to see more than one side to a person.

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