• 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. 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.

  2. Catcher in the Rye Oral presentation

    The irony is that those cute innocent songs are actually about sex themselves. More Ironic is the fact that Holden wants to become the catcher of those little children that are having fun. In his mind, this is protection, but from the poem its clear that the fun in rye

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

    9 That kills me. See, if it's not "If a body catch a body comin' through the rye," there's no point anymore. It looks like there was no need for another war. I took care of it myself! Right now I'm sitting on the atomic bomb, and the time is

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

    For example, they proceed to lock him in his room and allow for his room to become a dustbin, assuming that only thinks like a bug and will not mind the filth. There can be seen "Streaks of dirt [running] along the walls [and] tangles of dust and garbage" all over the floor and surfaces (Kafka 55).

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

    Antolini in a bad way at all for being a heavy drinker or having married into a wealthy family even though his wife is, according to Holden sixty years older than Mr. Antolini is. Due to Holden?s admiration of his teacher, he excuses his actions and ways of life again

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

    Most notably perhaps was Holden?s encounter with Stradlater. Holden could not contain his anger upon seeing Stradlater rip up his essay about Allie?s baseball glove and attacked Stradlater. While this fight had ended in absolute failure for Holden, it did serve to show how Holden was prone to anger.

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

    It is about the desire to create something that stands out of everything, yet something that stands completely true to the person itself. The troubled souls are those who isolate themselves from their problems, the circumstances and the attached sorrow that comes with it.

  2. Catcher in the Rye Commentary

    The fact that he has such an advanced word in his vocabulary tells us that he is a conflicted person who is still very smart. The story is written in Holden?s point of view, and is a retelling of his story.

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