The Catcher in the Rye - Main Character

The Catcher In The Rye / J.D. Salinger - - Main Character -

Preface -

This book has been steeped in controversy since it was banned in America after it\'s first
publication. John Lennon\'s assassin, Mark Chapman, asked the former beatle to sign a copy of
the book earlier in the morning of the day that he murdered Lennon. Police found the book in
his possession upon apprehending the psychologically disturbed Chapman. However, the book
itself contains nothing that could be attributed with leading Chapman to act as he did - it could
have been any book that he was reading the day he decided to kill John Lennon - and as a
result of the fact that it was \'The Catcher In The Rye\', a book describing nervous breakdown,
media speculated widely about the possible connection. This gave the book even more
notoriety. So what is \'The Catcher In The Rye\' actually about ?
Superficially the story of a young man\'s expulsion from yet another school, \'The Catcher In
The Rye\' is in fact a perceptive study of one individual\'s understanding of his human condition.
Holden Caulfield, a teenager growing up in 1950s New York, has been expelled school for
poor achievement once again. In an attempt to deal with this he leaves school a few days prior
to the end of term, and goes to New York to \'take a vacation\' before returning to his parents\'
inevitable wrath.
Told as a monologue, the book describes Holden\'s thoughts and activities over these few
days, during which he describes a developing nervous breakdown, symptomised by his bouts of
unexplained depression, impulsive spending and generally odd, erratic behaviour, prior to his
eventual nervous collapse.
However, during his psychological battle, life continues on around Holden as it always had,
with the majority of people ignoring the \'madman stuff\' that is happening to him - until it begins
to encroach on their well defined social codes. Progressively through the novel we are
challenged to think about society\'s attitude to the human condition - does society have an
\'ostrich in the sand\' mentality, a deliberate ignorance of the emptiness that can characterize
human existence? And if so, when Caulfield begins to probe and investigate his own sense of
emptiness and isolation, before finally declaring that the world is full of \'phonies\' with each one
put out for their own phony gain, is Holden actually the one who is going insane, or is it society
which has lost it\'s mind for failing to see the hopelessness of their own lives?

Holden\'s Personality -

There are 3 main aspects in Holden\'s personality :

1. His criticism toward the \'phony\' things in society.
2. His perception that laws (Rules) are \'child\'s play\' for the strong and a difficult struggle for
the weak.
3. Respect for fellowman.

The criticism toward \'phony\' things in society is expressed in the novel primarily by the word
\'phony\'. Holden is a representative of the world of childhood whose characteristics are the
opposite values to those Holden calls \'phony\'.
One of the things Holden often calls \'phony\' is the world of movies and everything about it.
Examples of it are his anger toward his brother D.B. because he moved to Hollywood,
aversion of Sunny the prostitute who tells him she spends most of her time in film theaters and
derision to the three women he met at the bar who are only interested in movies and famous
Another thing Holden calls \'phony\' is the theater. He finds the theater \'phony\' because he
thinks that instead of demonstrating reality as it is, the emphasis is put on polishing theatricality.
He says he has never seen so much \'phony\' things like he saw in the theater.
Out of these examples and others we see that for Holden it is very important to be \'real\',
honest and not \'phony\', thus the criticism toward the \'phony\' things in society is the most
significant aspect of his personality
Another important aspect in Holden\'s personality is that rules to him were meant to serve the
strong, whereas he belongs to the weak, thus he ignores them completely. His attitude toward
rules can be demonstrated by these examples