Reasons for Holden's outlook in "The Catcher in the Rye".

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The Catcher in the Rye Thesis Essay

Holden Caulfield is a mind-boggling character.  He is the protagonist and narrator of The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger. Holden tells of his weekend in New York after he had been kicked out of another school. Holden is different in numerous ways, but most of his traits aren’t great ones. Holden calls everything phony, compares everyone to his dead brother Allie, and makes terrible decisions. Holden is the way he is because of his experiences at Pencey Prep, the death of his brother Allie, along with how he chose to live his life from there on.


In the beginning of the novel, Holden tells of how he was kicked out of Pencey Prep. Holden describes everything there as phony. Holden probably feels this way since the things there are completely fake. Holden tells of why he thinks things there are phony. He states: “They advertise in about a thousand magazines, always showing some hot shot guy on a horse jumping over a fence. Like as if all you ever did at Pencey was play polo all the time.  I never even once saw a horse anywhere near the place.” (Page 4) Since Holden never saw any of these things at the school, he is convinced that they ought to be a phony. Holden’s obsession with calling everything phony grows when he digs deep to find any reason whatsoever to call something phony. He adds: “We always had the same meal on Saturday nights at Pencey. It was supposed to be a big deal, because they gave you steak. … What a racket. … They were these little hard, dry jobs that you could hardly even cut.” (Page 40) In these lines, Holden talks about how the school was phony because of the food quality. Holden goes on and finds the little things to call something phony. After leaving Pencey Prep, Holden was negatively influenced by these things he did in Pencey Prep and continued to call everything and everyone phony.

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Before Holden leaves Pencey Prep, he tells the reader about Allie. Allie was Holden’s younger brother. He was two years younger than Holden, but more intelligent. Allie had a variety of traits that made him special to Holden. He was left-handed, red–haired, emotional, and wrote in green ink. Allie stood out to Holden and they became great friends. When Holden was thirteen, Allie had gotten Leukemia; he died on July 18, 1946. Holden states: “I slept in the garage the night he died, and I broke all the goddam windows with my fist, just for the hell of it. ...

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