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To What Extent Does Salinger Make You Sympathize With Holden Caulfield

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The Catcher In The Rye By J.D.Salinger To What Extent Does Salinger Make You Sympathize With Holden Caulfield J.D Salinger has made the main character and narrator, Holden Caulfield, very complex. He has many good qualities that help the reader to sympathize with him. However throughout the novel the reader comes to realize that Holden's behaviour around other characters often contradicts the opinions he has expressed to t he reader. This makes us see that, at times, Holden is no better than the characters he dislikes. It makes him seem "phoney." However his use of colloquial language helps the reader to realize that Holden is still quite young and has a childish and immature view of life. You can see how immature he is because even though he is sixteen he still made a snowball and tried to get on a bus without realizing that the bus driver would make him throw it out. "The snow was very good for packing. I didn't throw it at anything," Holden then complains, "But he wouldn't believe me. People never believe you." This is a very childish thing to say, if he doesn't get his own way then Holden believes that it's the other person's fault. He never considers that the bus driver is just doing his job or that eventually the snowball would melt on the bus creating more work for the bus driver who would probably have to clean it up. ...read more.


Holden, who sees himself as the catcher in the rye, has made it his aim to protect others, even the people he doesn't really like, from the severity of reality. This could make you sympathize with Holden as he is generally a reasonable and kind person to other individuals. There are certain events that force you to sympathize with Holden. For example he is very dependant on other people and has to have someone to talk to all the time. He hires a prostitute and when she arrives he only wants to talk to her, "'don't you feel like talking for a while?' I asked her. It was a childish thing to say, but I was feeling so damn peculiar. 'Are you in a very big hurry?' She looked at me like I was a madman. 'What the heck ya wanna talk about?' This makes you realize that Holden might just be lonely. As he doesn't conform to what people expect of you, does things differently from everyone else and doesn't really care what other people think of him, this makes you show compassion for him. The language used in this section of the book is very clever, Salinger uses dialogue and inner monologue as well, this adds to the humour in what could have been a serious paragraph. ...read more.


And can share some of the love Allie has missed through the years. Information about Allie stays mysterious and private to Holden so when Stradlater denies the essay he has written and he becomes angry it shows how he is hiding his emotions about his brother's death that he has only been able to show through anger, "The night he died I broke all the goddam windows with my fist. I even tried to break all the windows on the station wagon." Stradlater seems to make these repressed emotions resurface by insulting Holden through his lack of respect for Jane and the hard work Holden had just put into writing that essay for him. I think that Salinger is mainly successful in his attempt to make the reader sympathize with Holden. Although at the beginning of the book Holden appears to be fake and uncaring towards several of the other characters, as the book progresses the reader is shown how he has been through the tragic loss of his brother and suppresses any emotions he had about him, and how Holden really wants to fit in with the "Adult world" even if some of the things he is doing he disagrees with. Holden is just a normal person with flaws like anyone else, the difference is that Holden can admit his faults and doesn't judge others immediately by theirs. Emma Rowley 4J English Literature Coursework 1 1 Page ...read more.

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