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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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jaded: Throughout the novel, Holden continually expresses his displeasure with mainstream America. He finds the things many Americans value to be superficial and worthless. In Holden's opinion, adults are lying, competitive, phony individuals with few redeeming qualities.

Immature: Holden is continually joking around and cannot control his emotions. Several characters throughout the novel tell Holden to settle down and grow up. Holden will suddenly break out dancing, wrestle Stradlater, raise his voice, and talk about sensitive subjects at inappropriate times.

Angry: Holden is upset with nearly every character throughout the novel. He harbors deep resentment about the death of his younger brother, Allie, and reveals his anger through his pessimistic view of the world around him. Holden is highly critical of everything he encounters and even physically expresses his anger by lashing out at his roommate.

Depressed: Throughout the novel, Holden continually thinks about his own death and contemplates suicide. His lack of perspective and traumatic experiences have left him depressed and confused.

Lonely: Holden searches for a genuine friend to confide in but continually attempts to satisfy his loneliness by speaking to unsympathetic people. He refuses to meet up with Jane and instead goes on a date with the superficial Sally Hayes. Holden needs a close, understanding friend to help him get through this difficult time in his life.

amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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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The Catcher in the Rye

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