Holden Caulfield

Holden Caulfield

    The Catcher in the Rye

Character Analysis

(Avoiding Spoilers)

Grew up… in New York City, but don't ask him anything else. As he says, "I don't feel like going into it. That stuff bores me, and my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them."

Living… in Agerstown, Pennsylvania, or at least he did before they kicked him out of boarding school a few days ago. That's ok because he hated that school anyway.

Visiting… his friends in Manhattan. Instead of staying with his parents, he is at the Edgar Hotel until Wednesday. He figured his parents probably wouldn't get the school's letter saying he'd been kicked out until then. And he didn't want to be around when they first got the letter; his mother gets very hysterical. So he is taking a little vacation for a few days. He needs it.

Interests… reading. As he says, "What I really like is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it." That doesn't happen much, though.

Relationship Status… single. Holden’s feelings about having a relationship are ambiguous at best. He thinks about sex a lot, but he's more interested in talk than actually doing anything. Other than prostitutes, his only chance right now is Sally Hayes, who's attractive but also somewhat dumb.

Challenge… to be the catcher in the rye. Misinterpreting Robert Burns’ poem Comin’ Through the Rye, Holden imagines that it refers to children playing a game in a rye field near the edge of a cliff. If they run too close to the edge, he wants to save them and their innocence from falling over. It’s more of a fantasy than anything, else, but Holden seems to have no other aspirations.

Personality… lonely, cynical, and depressed. Like a lot of teenagers, Holden is prone to being moody, and constantly being surrounded by phonies does nothing to help with his loneliness and misanthropy. It's only with his younger sister, Phoebe, that Holden feels anything close to happiness.


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