I am going to write a first-person speech about Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye.  It will explain why he acts the way that he does in the book. Any tips or ideas on how to start off?

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sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If I am interpreting your question correctly, you are going to give a speech as Holden Caulfield explaining why he acts the way that he does.  If that is the case, then I would love to be there when you give this speech.  Holden Caulfield fascinates me, because he makes me so angry.  I really can't stand the character.  He's lazy and complains about everything.  Both of those things are two of my biggest pet peeves.  

In order for you to explain why you (Holden) act the way that you do, be sure to include in your speech something about phonies.  Holden can't stand phonies.  

"One of the biggest reasons I left Elkton Hills was because I was surrounded by phonies. That's all. They were coming in the goddam window. . . It was one of the worst schools I ever went to. It was full of phonies."

As you explain your feelings about phonies, be sure to move on to a completely different topic halfway through.  The sudden shift will emulate Holden's stream of consciousness that is so prevalent throughout the book.  In fact, as you write the speech, if your mind starts to wander, write that stuff down.  

My last recommendation to you for a speech that explains why Holden acts the way that he does is to mention museums.  The museum is just about the only place that Holden talks about that brings up fond memories for him.  He seems to be happy and content there, and thinking about it brings him happiness.  Holden can't stand phonies, because they represent people acting like something that they weren't the day before.  He wishes that people were more like the museum -- never changing and predictable.  

"The best thing, though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was. Nobody'd move. You could go there a hundred thousand times, and that Eskimo would still be just finished catching those two fish, the birds would still be on their way south, the deers would still be drinking out of that water hole […]. Nobody'd be different." 

sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The stream of consciousness shift shouldn't be jolting, but within a few sentences you should be talking about something completely different.  For example:

You could be talking about something that you like in the museums, like the cavemen.  You like the cavemen because they didn't have time for dumb stuff.  They only had to focus on what was important.  Like finding food.  Yeah food tastes good.  You know what I like?  I like hamburgers.  Real hamburgers.  None of that fake McDonald's stuff.  That's just a bunch of phony meat.  I can't stand that kind of phoniness.  That's why I left school in the first place.  Not because they had phony meat, but because the whole school was full of phonies.  

You could do it something like that.  Be random and guided at the same time. I know.  It sounds weird.  

As for an intro, have you thought about having Holden start off confrontational?  "I'm only here because . . . which I think is just stupid anyway.  If I had it my why, this is what I should have told so and so when he told me that I had to do this.  But whatever. . . I'm here now, and I'm supposed to tell you a bit about me.  Like you give a rip anyway.  Bunch of phonies is what you all are . . ."  Something like that might work.  

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The Catcher in the Rye

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