• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Holden Caufield's Character in Catcher in the Rye

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Vanessa Lin ENG2DE-02 Ms. Joffe Friday, December 17th, 2010 Holden Caufield?s Character in Catcher in the Rye The protagonist of J.D. Salinger?s Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caufield, is best described as an anti-hero. Although his intentions are good, he lacks the heroic qualities required to realize them, and never truly resolves his problems with ?phoniness,? ultimately accomplishing nothing. He distrusts 1950s American society and its people, seeing them as image-obsessed and insincere. Combined, these traits make him an archetypical anti-hero. Throughout the course of the novel, it becomes evident that Holden, embodying very few of his society?s ideals, is an anti-heroic character. At the age of sixteen, he is six foot two, awkward-looking, and has ?quite a bit of grey hair? (Salinger 57). Despite this, he notes that sometimes, he acts ?only about twelve? (Salinger 9). ...read more.

Middle

After losing fights, he pretends to be wounded; when he is punched, he thinks that he is dying, and subsequently ?sort of [starts] pretending [to have] a bullet in [his] guts? (Salinger 103-104). Holden fulfills his role as an archetypical anti-hero not only because he lacks heroic traits, but also by criticizing the society that he lives in. A major focus of the novel?s plot is the insincerity, or ?phoniness? of people in 1950s America. As an anti-hero, Holden distrusts society and the people around him, condemning the hypocrisy of other characters? interactions and the social practices of the time. He ?hate[s] the movies like poison? (Salinger 29) because of the actors, thinking that they ?do something phony every minute? (Salinger 117). Similarly, when asked whether he wants to be a lawyer, he refuses, asking ?How would you know you weren?t being a phony?? (Salinger 172). ...read more.

Conclusion

His choice to think of Phoebe?s future rather than ?phoniness? represents his greater realization that, in reality, the ?catcher in the rye? cannot exist. Holden expresses this when he muses that ?the thing with kids is ... you have to let them do it, and not say anything. If they fall off, they fall off, but it?s bad if you say anything? (Salinger 211). Although he does not accomplish his goal, Holden is an honourable failure; his recognition of the impossibility of his dream allows him to mature as a person and move on with life. Holden?s character is distinctly anti-heroic. He is disillusioned, heavily flawed, and critical of the people he encounters and the society that he lives in. Because of this, he fails to achieve his one true goal, instead realizing that ?phoniness? is something he cannot prevent. Ultimately, Holden Caufield?s lack of heroic qualities, criticism of society, and failure make him an archetypical anti-hero.p ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate World Literature section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related International Baccalaureate World Literature essays

  1. Catcher in the Rye Oral presentation

    Red hunting hat If you have read the novel, you probably have noticed on many occasions that Holden constantly does something rather peculiar. He constantly puts on and takes off a red hunting cap that he bought one day when he lost his teams fencing equipment.

  2. Creative Response. Catcher in the Rye written task + Rationale

    Instead of only thinking about her, the telephone conversation could be integrated into the story. Of course, if this actually happened the rest of the story would change. Through this telephone conversation I wanted to first show how Holden tends to idolizes people, especially those who he hasn't had much contact with in a long time.

  1. Free essay

    Comparing Catcher in the Rye and the Bell Jar

    She said, Ever since I'd learned about the corruption of Buddy Willard my virginity weighed like a millstone around my neck. It had been of such enormous importance to me for so long that my habit was to defend it at all costs.

  2. For this task, my main objective was to look at the world through the ...

    And now, you see, I can. Anyways, I guess that's it. Perhaps by saying all this, I'm the one who's being a phony. So why live? Tell D.B. to stop being a prostitute 8 -I swear to God each time I think about it, it makes me damn near puke -more than I already have.

  1. The protagonists in Franz Kafkas The Metamorphosis and J.D. Salingers The Catcher in the ...

    Not only do they force him to live like a bug, they treat him like one when they are face-to-face. Grete, who was once his doting sister, cannot stand the sight of him and only brings him food when Gregor is under a sofa.

  2. To what extent can society be blamed for the isolation in the lives ...

    anything or anyone, and I would like to argue that as stated by Eric Lomazoff that ?Caulfield?s self-destruction over a period of days forces one to contemplate society's attitude toward the human condition. Salinger's portrayal of Holden, which includes incidents of depression, nervous breakdown, impulsive spending, sexual exploration, vulgarity, and

  1. Comparison of Violence in The Catcher in the Rye with Their Eyes Were Watching ...

    Of these events, the most significant one may have been upon Holden?s realization that Stradlater was taking Jane Gallagher out for a date. Holden had made it clear earlier in the novel that he still had strong feelings for Jane.

  2. Minor Characters in "The Catcher in the Rye".

    Holden?s association of becoming an adult with being better at sex than he is at the moment; ?Anyway, while I was putting on another clean shirt, I sort of figured this was my big chance, in a way.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work