Can you help me analyse the character of Holden?
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Your question wants very specific information that I am not going to provide. You will need to read the book if you wish to write an essay or complete a paper on this topic. However what I will do is give you some pointers for you to "flesh out" in your work.
Holden is the first-person narrator of the book and throughout its pages expresses his discontent with life and more specifically at what he terms "phoniness". As a first person narrator you would do well to question to what extent we can consider him to be an unreliable narrator. In other words, can we trust him? It is clear that we must suspect what he says: we know that he has been through 4 different schools, he has no care whatsoever for the future, he has been hospitalised, has seen a psychoanalyst for an unspecified condition and is chronically unable to connect to others. He has clearly been affected by two massive shocks in his life: the death of his brother Allie and the suicide of one of his classmates. Yet his state cannot simply be explained away as a result of these traumas.
One characteristic that it is impossible to ignore about Holden is his judgemental nature about everything and everyone, especially phoniness. This is carried to such extremes that it is actually quite amusing. "Phony" is used by Holden to describe people who are too conventional, yet the irony of it is that it is Holden's judgements that are superficial - he systematically choses to reject more complex conclusions in favour of simple judgements.
Also, Holden is obsessed by sex. Although he is a virgin a lot of the novel is based around his quest to lose his virginity. He clearly feels sex should be between two people that love and respect each other, and is upset by the realisation that sex can be casual. He is disturbed by his own ability to be turned on by women that he doesn't know very well and also "kinky" behaviour, which he says is wrong but in the same breath describes it as "kind of fun".
In this coming of age novel, we see this character, Holden, who desperately wants to hold on to innocent ideals and childish ways of looking at the world, but is forced to confront a more complex way of living and being in the world. Hope it helps - now go and read the book and get some proof for what I have said!
Holden Caufield is an adolescent who recognizes the "phony" nature of adult life and the dubious nature of the American Dream that prevailed in the 1950's culture. Alienated, incapable of staying in boarding school and surround by what he precieves as superficiality in materialistic and humanistic aspects of New York culture. Holden Caufield lives in a despressing and cynical world which he would like to rebel against, but it seems the world is so superficial and cynical that until he truly trangresses the social norms of that cynical world he cannot see much point in rebelling against its overwhelming and institionalized forces. In addition to this, this can be further elaborated by the timid and controversial culture in America. Which instigates the "Father knows best and leave it to Beaver mentality of the suburban American war against a backdrop of increasing racial tension, the growth of psychoanalysis, the threat of nuclear war, the Korean war, the communist paranoia spearheaded by Senator Joseph McCarthy's communist witch hunts, rising prosperity and public consumerism.
J.D. Salinger, in the Catcher in the Rye, shows Holden Caufield to be aware of both values of childhood and of the loss of these values as one grows older. What this means is that children feel safe in the world, protected by their benevolent parents and ignorant of many things that intimidate adults, so they are free to be innocent, to express love, to have a simple faith in life, and to hope that everything will be all right. However what Holden loathes and distresses is that eventually this childhood ideal will deterioate by the course of time and instead be injected by the ways of adulthood which means exposure to profanity, money, sex and drugs.
Good luck....i'll leave the rest you you.
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