Holden Caulfield - a Usual Teenager
Holden Caulfield is the
main character of "The catcher in the rye” written by J. D. Salinger. As a
story-teller he is 17. But in the story itself he appears to be 16. Therefore,
he is a teenager.
He is quite poor at
learning. He has managed to fail in 4 subjects out of 5, except for English.
His sister and brothers are much brighter though. "As a matter of fact, I’m the
only dumb one in my family”.
Holden is not
self-confident at all. He is very shy. He is in love with Jane but tries to
conceal it even from himself.
So, the main character
is an adolescent. He is quite an ordinary guy with rather ordinary problems. As
a teenager he has to deal with an interpersonal conflict: his desire to be
grown up versus simple inability to do that.
Within the entire story
he seems to be quite depressed. I can’t say though that he is worrying about
leaving school. His marks do not bother him at all. He is in such a mood
because he can’t find that necessary something that would calm him down.
Alcohol doesn’t help. So, he agrees then to spend a night with a prostitute.
But he can’t overcome his timidity and feels even worse afterwards. He says he
was even thinking of committing a suicide. And only afterwards he turns to his
Holden’s main problem is
that he is always alone. He does not have any friends. A lonely character. But
that is typical of teenagers. They usually think that they understand and
realize much more than all the others. That is why they consider themselves to
be unacknowledged individuals.
I suppose Salinger has
decided to make Holden the main character of the story because his purpose was
to create a character that would reflect social problems of the time. That is
why he chooses a teenager. Teenagers are always dissatisfied with their life
and they have quite daring thoughts and ideas that may sound shocking.
The author describes the
life without concealing or colouring the truth. And Holden is also very sincere
with the readers. He does not only tell us a story, he expresses his life
position as well. For example, he comes to Mr Spencer and is told to listen to
the teacher read out his essay. He does not want to. But the teacher insists on
doing that. And Holden writes, "He read it anyway, though. You can’t stop a
teacher when they want to do something. They just do it”.
To conclude, Holden is
the very character that represents the young generation, with its recalcitrant
behaviour, rebellious thoughts, and absolute inability to cope with them
himself. The process of growing up is not an easy one…
It's time to dive...
"In order to
understand this story you have to accept the vision of the main
character, share his viewpoint and let him guide you. You have to
dive into the very depth of his thoughts”- these words have
caught my attention while I was looking for the book in the Inet.
Among thousands "didn't understand it at all” and "why
do people admire it?”, among millions "rotten morality”
and "corrupted personality”, among billions "the
best stuff ever” and "a must-read book” they were almost
unnoticeable though they reveal the only way to comprehend the message
of "The Catcher...”.
The main character of the
story is Holden Caulfield, who's about 16 years old. He was just
kicked out from the Pencey Prep'aratory School. And that's where his
Actually, we know very
little about his family – we only know that he's got an elder
brother he calls D.B. and a small sister Phoebe he loves so much.
Some years ago his younger brother Allie died and a great deal of
Holden's thoughts are somehow connected with this loss. The only
thing we know about his parents is that they'll be mad about his
expulsion. It seems that he doesn't want to talk about them at all,
being sure they aren't able to understand him and accept his
vision of live. But has he really got any shaped vision? According to
his words he's surrounded by phonies and bastards. He can find
drawbacks in every person he meets – his roommate is too selfish,
his teachers are too nerdy. It seems that the only people he cares
about are his sister, his friend Jane whom he hasn't seen for ages
and two nuns he met in a little sandwich bar.
So, Holden leaves his
school but he's not going to go straight home. He's just too worried
about the fact that his parents will be too disappointed to find out
he was expelled. He prefers to stay in the hotel, meet some of his
old friends. The description of these events is mixed up with
Holden's thoughts, he expresses his attitude towards the world he
finds himself in and people he faces. He is not only the participant,
but a certain judge, a very cynical one.
Once I've come across the
idea that if one spends a week in another country, he is able to
write a book about it. If one lives there for a month, he's able to
write an article. But if one lives there for a long period of time,
he becomes absolutely unable to write anything, because the main
problem he faces is finding a distant and objective point if view. So
how can you describe the society you live in if you're unable to be
objective? The only way out is to take the position of an observer,
the one who doesn't regard himself as a member of this society, who
is so-to-say opposed to it. That's why the main character of the book
is a teenager – he's not a child anymore, but he still doesn't
belong to the society of adults. That's why he can look at it and
really SEE its inner self. He's bold enough to be rude and harsh as
far as he speaks about the world he himself doesn't belong to. He's
cynical and critical but that's the only way to reveal all the
drawbacks of the modern life. It seems that he has just made his
mind – to be stern speaking about life not to let it be stern to
P.S. There's time for
analysis and research. There's time for criticism and judgment.
There's time for interpretation and comprehension. But now it's time
to dive. Are you in?
The Fallen Catcher in the
We face the issue very often in real life. There are
many people who are against the society they live in. But what is the reason
for? Are they better or worse than others? No, the only difference between them
and common people is that they aren’t taught how to live and behave in society.
That doesn’t mean that they are ignoramuses. They just don’t know how to
communicate well with others. Very often such people have very few friends. Life
has too much inanity. And such people analyze it too much, so this drives them
mad. The fact that these people have to be against the society makes them cynical.
Holden Caulfield can be called the best representative
of the people mentioned above. He is a teenager expelled from the prep school. All
his life Holden meets different people, goes through different life situations
and is always against the society. He is a typical closed and self-centered
person. He can be called unpractical to live in society. He perceives the life
too serious that’s why many its displays seems disgusting for him. For example,
on the one hand Holden wants to be as careless as his friends, but on the other
hand he doesn’t like it. Besides this the teenager has no experience in
building and maintaining relationships with girls. The situation in Holden’s
life becomes more complex because of the death of his younger brother.
Holden wants to be a part of society, but he can’t. There
is no person in his life who could help him overcome his inner sufferings. Holden
meets a person who sings a song about a person who catches little children in
the rye preventing them from falling down into the abyss. This becomes the idée
fixe for Holden. From that moment he wants to be the catcher in the rye. But who
are these very children running in the rye? And what is the abyss?
The children running in the rye are the same people as
Holden himself. They are not taught to live in society. Their run in the rye is
like wandering in life. And the abyss means life with all the difficulties a
person can face while he/she is growing up. Holden is a child himself. And he
needs a catcher in his life. He doesn’t want other people have such inner sufferings
as he experience. He wants to explain them everything in time.
Unfortunately, there is no catcher in Holden’s life. That’s
why he is already fallen into the abyss of life. This makes him an experienced
person. And he tries to be catcher now. A fallen catcher in the rye.
Just a Teenager
The main character of the book - Holden- belongs to a
noble family who lives in New York. His father is a lawyer, his younger sister
is a very clever girl for her age, his brother is a famous writer so the
impression we get after having learnt all these facts about Holden’s family
makes us think that Holden should be a clever, well-behaved boy who will
graduate from the university and will have a great job. But instead of it we
meet a boy who IS really clever but can’t make friends and even talk in a
normal way with his roommates. He always feels irritated, he believes he is surrounded
just by phonies who can only pretend, lead phony talks and live just for
At the very beginning we have an impression that
Holden has a strong personality, that he is the hero of his time. But later we
notice that though his thoughts seem to be correct, he always loses, no matter
what is it: a college, a fight or just a simple talk.
What we really see is that Holden simply built a high psychological
cynical wall around himself that does not allow his to perceive the world and
people as they are. He insists that he is the only one who is right and I can
partially agree with him. What I can’t understand is why he does not want to
believe at least for a minute that he can’t build his life alone and that he
has to communicate and accept other people’s thoughts and points of view.
Holden is just a teenager but all ideas and thoughts
he has in his mind are typical of a very mature person. He makes his
conclusions experiencing different life situations. What I really like in this
guy is that he does not want to obey every rule. He does not want to pretend he
likes something when he really dislikes it. Unfortunately the life truth is
cruel. And Holden faces only bad situations. On the other hand, are they really
so bad? Life is never simple. It presupposes love, trust and communication. But
Holden intentionally avoids all these factors. What he really needs to learn is
that his life will never be normal without his own will. Phoebe is the only
person who influences him. She tells him what he does wrong. And at the end of
the story it is her who prevents him from making the biggest mistake in his
life – leaving the family. Maybe she is the one who realizes that without her
help Holden will make many more mistakes than he has already made.
Probably the main part of the book is when Phoebe asks
Holden what he really wants to do in his life. The only answer he gives her is
that he wants to rescue little children from falling down from high cliffs into
a rye field.
So this rye field symbolizes our society where every
human looks and behaves absolutely identical. We all represent a huge crowd
that obeys the same rules. One generation copies the life-style of the previous
one, only becoming crueler and more egoistic. And Holden realizes it still
being a teenager. He believes that a small innocent child getting into the
environment our society lives can only become a part of the crowd absorbing all
the drawbacks and there is no other way.
And if he was able to do that he would definitely
rescue every child who was going to fall into our society.
Caulfield – the character
understand very well
The book is dedicated to describing
a certain type of character – a young person who’s unsatisfied with his
surroundings and people around him. Some critics define this sort of character as the one who stands
as a critic of society, taking a stance against phoniness, hypocrisy,
obscenity, and passiveness.
The story begins with the main character’s narration about his life at
Pency Prep – a closed school for boys from wealthy families. Holden Caulfield
is going to be expelled from the school but he doesn’t regret it – he has been
kicked out from schools and colleges not once. Holden feels he can’t spend even
one more hour with the egocentric and obtuse mates: Ackley, who is always poking
his nose into other people's affairs, and Stradlater, the one whom Holden
really hates now – Stradlater is low-down with girls, as well as with Jane,
Holden’s old friend. Actually Holden still likes her, that’s why he’s outraged
with the thought Stradlater might have something with the girl. They get into a
fight. With a bleeding nose, Holden leaves the dorm and takes a train to New York. He’s set his
mind not going home right away – he intends to stay a few days at a hotel and
have some fun. Later he understands there can no fun when people around you –
the girls in the night club, the ex-girlfriend of his famous brother (who’s in Hollywood by the way),
the waiter, the prostitute Sunny and the elevator guy Maurice – are all shallow,
frivolous, foul and unscrupulous. He’s nearly on the edge of crying because
dishonesty, rudeness, dullness and impudence drive him stark mad.
Holden’s behaviour is conditioned by
the society in a broad sense. The guy is indeed very sensitive to what he is
told and what he sees in reality. He feels straight away when a person
represents nothing but behaves as if the whole world is spinning only around him.
Holden calls almost all people around him ‘phony’, ‘crumby’, ‘corny’, ‘a slob’.
With the help of these simple words he’s trying to express his overwhelming
contempt and irritation. Holden understands – people want to seem, not to be.
This discrepancy between a person’s
essence and a person’s behaviour makes Holden unhinged. Lies, avidity, narrow-mindedness,
vulgarity, banality, pointlessness of efforts are the things Holden can’t put
up with. Holden realizes society doesn’t need him – everyone is busy with their
own affairs, everyone wants to take advantage of other people’s innocence. The
boy feels rotten, cheated, deluded, disillusioned. At the same time Holden
conforms to the way other people behave. He can’t stop telling lies, he behaves
the same way – drinks, smokes, has dates with girls, that means he doesn’t
reject society as it is but wants it to cease pretending life is fun.
The novel remains popular with young
people just because it shows a person who doesn’t fit into the polarized society
of phony careerists and idle fast livers. I feel sympathy for the character as
I often share such an attitude to the world. At times the sense of my actions
is slipping away from me because I feel I don’t like anything except for some
things that are no longer with me.
The catcher in the Rye
The main character Holden was a
seventeen year old boy who learned at American school Pensi. He had a big
family, two brothers and a sister. His brother Alli died when Holden was 13 years old. His elder
brother was a very famous person, he published books and shoot films. The
author gave us the description of Holden’s sister. She was very kind and nice.
He lived in a room with Streidleiter and he quarrelled with him because of one
girl. – Djein. She Was his good friend and he loved her. They met first time
when they rested and they liked to play chess together.
The main character was included form
the school because he didn’t pass all the exams, he passed only one – English.
He didn’t want to upset his parents that is why he decided to leave the school
before his parents got a letter that he was included. He packed his things and went to New York. On
the way he met a mother of one of classmate and talked with her. When he came
to New York he couldn’t decide very long whom he want to call, first of all he
wanted to call his younger sister but it was too late and she was sleeping.
Then he called to Fei Kavandish. Holden knew her from the party in Prinston,
she was a cabaret dancer. So he invited her to talk and to drink cocktails but
she disagreed. At that night he met also three not pretty women, whom he didn’t
like and thought that they were dull. In the end of the chapters the author
showed us the conversation between the main character and two catholic women.
They were talking about Romeo and
Juliet. And the main character stayed very disappointed by this conversation.
In the second part of the story the
main character wanted to buy a record for his sister. He bought it and decided
to meet his sister in the park but she wasn’t there. Actually the whole second
part of the story was connected with his little sister Phibi. So, the main
character met a little girl that was a friend of his little sister and she said
that Phibi and the whole class went to the museum. Firstly Holden decided to go
there but then he understood that it was a weekend and Phibi didn’t study. But
in spite of it he went to the Museum of Natural history. Then we see the conflict
between the main character and Sally, his friend. They saw a play with a
popular actor and during the break they went in the smoking room. There were
too many people who were rich and selfish, as the main character thought. He
didn’t like that society and he was depressed and angry. More than that Sally
met her friend there and they talked that made Holden furious. So he quarrelled
with her. Tan the main character went to Radio-city and say a film that was
absolutely disgusting and the made him irritated.
Well, the whole second part is full
of different actions and the main character travels a lot, meets different
people, mostly his friends. But the main thing in this part is his conversation
with his sister Phibi. Holden decided to meet her at night. His parents were
absent and nothing could disturb him.
During this conversation Phibi asked him: Whom do you want to be in this
life? What kind of job do you want to have? And Holden said: I want to be those
person who catches children in the rye. Another conversation that is also
important is his conversation with Mr. Antolini. He taught Holden English in
his previous school. He said him that Holden falling into abyss. He wasted
time, he searched for something that the society around him couldn’t give him.
To conclude i must say,
that the main character is a mysterious person for me and i cant understand him
at all. The author shows us a young boy who is very vulnerable and sensitive.
He always searches for the truth in this life, for an ideal person. While reading
this text, i made a decision that Holden doesn’t like the whole world in spite
of his family and his friend Jane. People, whom he adores, like his teachers
Mr. Antolini and Mr. Spencer make him irritated. To my mind the author wanted
to show his main character that the society is not an ideal. He lives in the
world of lie, selfishness and people
there are snobs and sceptics.
Searching for the place in life
I can’t say that Holden Caulfield is a
character that I don’t understand very well. His feelings are very clear and
sincere and it adds to the character a special attractiveness. Salinger shows
the events through the eyes of Holden and does not give him any assessment. It
is the reader who observes the developing of the plot, analyses main actions
and draws conclusions.
There are many conflicts in the book.
I want to single out some of them. First of all through the eyes of Holden the
author shows the conflict between love and sex. Holden wants to feel the
deepest love. At the same time his age makes him think that sex should be
joined with love. But in reality sex comes too easy with money. So he is
confused. This misunderstanding of reality makes him lonely. But the lonelier
he becomes the more he lives in his fantasies.
And he develops his estrangement. The
ways of expressing alienation is another theme of the story. Holden often says
"people like”, "people want” and thereby he tries to separate himself from
other "people”. I think the author wants to show a kind of meanness of a
person’s wants and wishes through the eyes of this pure boy.
loneliness is one of the main themes in the book He accused people of their
strange behavior but in fact it was he who destroyed everything. He wants to
have friends, he is dependent on other people, he even searches for them, but
his date with both Sally and Luce did no good because of his rude behavior. I
think that the Author shows Holden that he
is the reason for all his troubles. May be the opinion of the author is
expressed by Phoebe’s words, that he loves no one.
She accused him of hating everything.
Holden doesn’t understand the world around;
moreover he even doesn’t try to. I suppose that he is just a small silly boy that
thinks that he is an adult. It is easy to live an adult life when you have
parent’s money. But he doesn’t understand the notion of responsibility that he
can’t exist in the society if he doesn’t accept its rules and laws. That’s why
he wants to work in the rye. Holden misheard the words of the song. He thought
the line was "If a body catch a body” and Holden imagined a field full of
children and he wanted to protect them. He wanted to do something kind and
pure. But the actual lyrics was "If a body meet a body” that means if one
person has sex with another. Holden wanted to catch children before they fall
out of innocence into knowledge of the adult world, including knowledge of sex.
Holden is just a child, who doesn’t know who he is.