Homework Help

Who is Holden Caulfield?

user profile pic

ikwf | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 2, 2010 at 3:51 AM via web

dislike -1 like

Who is Holden Caulfield?

3 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 2, 2010 at 4:29 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 1 like

The previous answers were quite strong.  I would suggest that Holden Caulfied represent adolescence.  To a certain extent, it is developmentally appropriate for children to undergo a period where they experience and embody some of he same traits of Holden Caulfied.  The questioning of authority, the tendency to look at and examine people's motivations, as well as the exploration of hypocrisy amongst adults is part of the adolescent process.  Holden embodies this.  At the same time, another tendency of adolescence is to seek out a world that represents what should or could be in stark contrast to what is.  Holden represents this tendency, as well.  In asking who or what Holden Caulfield is, one realizes that there is much in Holden which is representative of many, if not, all adolescents.

user profile pic

mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 2, 2010 at 4:01 AM (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like

He's a younger born twin of his author, J. D. Salinger:

Salinger vs. Holden

  • both born and raised in NYC
  • both attend schools and fail to graduate (Holden-prep school; Salinger-college)
  • both have parents of different religious faiths
  • both have well-to-do parents
  • both underwent treatment (Holden-psychiatric; Salinger-post war stress)
  • both isolate themselves from others (Holden runs away; Salinger is a recluse in N.H.)

As a literary character, he is a 16 year-old unreliable narrator who is very conservative, anti-social, immature (though he stands over six feet and has grey hair), and obsessed with child-like things (checkers, his dead brother, the ducks in Central Park) and sex.  He is hopelessly stuck in the past: he has never gotten over his brother's death, and he dreads conforming to the post WWII materialistic and "phony" culture.


user profile pic

mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted January 2, 2010 at 4:03 AM (Answer #3)

dislike -1 like

In the book "The Catcher in the Rye" Holden Caulfield is an adolescent male, 16 year old, who is struggling to find his place in the world of adults.  He is the protagonist in the book.  Holden is also the voice against the adult's in his life.  Holden is depressed following his sister's death.  He is filled with emotion and at times loses it such as he did when his sister died.   Through his self-identity Holden thinks of himself as being The Catcher in the Rye.  He sees children in the rye field and he knows they will be contaminated by the adult world.   He wants to catch their innocence before they are ruined by adults. 


Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes