Holden Caulfield is an engaging and relatable narrator partly because he lacks heroic qualities and is very upfront about this. Anti-heroes are, by definition, more common than heroes, and Holden is, in most of his characteristics, a thoroughly typical teenager: complaining and evading rather than taking decisive action. Unlike many anti-heroes, Holden never regards himself as heroic. In fact, he generally dismisses heroism as phony. He dislikes Sir Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet because Olivier plays the character in a manner he regards as too heroic:
He was too much like a goddam general, instead of a sad, screwed-up type guy.
Holden’s sheltered life means that he generally approaches ideas of heroism and courage through the medium of art, particularly film and drama. He seldom sympathizes with the hero of the film or play he sees, generally identifying with a subsidiary character, if anyone. Before meeting Carl Luce , he watches a movie which he predictably describes as putrid and phony....
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