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Holden Caulfield

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Introduction

Holden's favourite saying is "if you really want to know the truth." I am going to give my views on what I feel to be "the truth" about Holden Caulfield. Holden has relationships with many different people throughout the book. I am going to start by writing about some of the people he has relationships with. The first woman that has had a large part in Holden's life is Jane Gallagher. We find out about Jane, when Stradlater tells Holden that she is his date. Immediately Holden starts telling Holden his life story. It is obvious that Holden has a bit of an obsession with Jane, when he starts telling us all about her, even about her moves in checkers - "She wouldn't move any of her kings. What she'd do when she'd get a king, she wouldn't move it." - We can see here that there maybe some kind of mental illness with Holden, because he remembers the oddest things about Jane. It may be that he is just cherishing the small details about her. He doesn't seem to have a normal conversation with Stradlater about her at all. He then asks Stradlater -"Did she tell you we used to play checkers all the time, or anything." - This is again an odd remark, because Jane Gallagher and Holden met during the summer, and she has probably forgotten about it now. He keeps saying that he should go down and see her - "I oughta go down and at least say hello to her." ...read more.

Middle

When she asks him why he asked for a prostitute if he'd just had an operation he says, "I thought I'd be feeling a lot better than I do. I was a little premature in my calculations" When the prostitute leaves, Holden starts to talk to his dead brother Allie. He remembers a time when he excluded Allie from playing with him and tells us, 'once in a while, now, when I get very depressed, I keep saying to him, 'Okay. Go home and get your bike and meet me in front of Bobby's house. Hurry up'' - Holden is obviously very guilty and is still mourning for Allie even though he died 4 years ago. Holden tells us that he feels like praying but can't, and he launches into his interpretation of the New Testament. Soon "the elevator guy" and Sunny come back and demand more money of Holden, but Holden refuses. Although the pimp beats him up and the prostitute takes his money, Holden continues to hurl insults at the man until he can no longer speak. As the prostitute and her pimp finally leave Holden pretends to himself that he has been shot in the gut - again here we can see that Holden seems to greet the idea of death. Later on that evening Holden says 'I felt like jumping out the window. I probably would've done it too, if I'd been sure somebody'd cover me up as soon as I landed. ...read more.

Conclusion

It seems probable that Salinger wished to convey that there is a bit of madness in the way Holden sees the world. The fact that the word comes up most often when Holden is criticizing himself could be a sign of further self-division from society. "I was wondering where the ducks went when the lagoon got all icy and frozen over," notes Holden in the second chapter of the novel. After that, he questions nearly every taxi driver about it and finally ends up by the lagoon himself one night in contemplation. The question is really one for himself, and mirrors a concern of Mr. Antolini's where does a person go when his environment can no longer support him? The desperation with which Holden attacks this question in the later questions is like the desperation he feels to find someplace where he can belong. In the end, Holden realizes that the ducks go away and almost decides to himself. However, Holden finishes the novel with an implied commitment to changing his environment rather than fleeing it. Holden's attachment to the hunting hat can be seen in his early description of it: "This is a people-shooting hat. I shoot people in this hat." Perhaps the "hunting" Holden does is one not of killing people, but of criticizing them. When he gives the hat to Phoebe, it may be symbolic that Holden has chosen not to separate himself from society any longer. As the hunting hat is red, and so was Allies hair, Holden may be wearing the red hunting hat to try and feel closer to Allie. ...read more.

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