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Where does Holden seem an unreliable narrator in The Catcher in the Rye?

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anthonette | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted November 27, 2012 at 4:59 AM via iOS

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Where does Holden seem an unreliable narrator in The Catcher in the Rye?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 27, 2012 at 6:03 AM (Answer #1)

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Holden is definitely a character who is presented as being out of control of his emotions at particular stages of the novel. Of course, on the one hand he is very open about this, telling the reader about how he broke the car window with his hand after his brother's death, but at other points the reader is only able to spot that Holden is not being truthful with himself by the reactions of others. A classic example of this comes in Chapter 17 when Holden meets up with Sally and they go iceskating. When Holden makes his somewhat idyllic proposal for them to elope and live in the woods together, he clearly begins to shout and raise his voice. As they are in a public place, Sally asks him to lower his voice. Note how Holden responds:

"Stop screaming at me, please," she said. Which was crap, because I wasn't even screaming at her.

Holden, when he gets into one of his rages, clearly loses the ability to see his own actions and understand how they might be impacting others. This is just one of the examples that show him to be an unreliable narrator.


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