Analysis of Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye

Updated August 24, 2021

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Analysis of Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye essay

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People may not tell you everything, however they will show you by other means; you just have to look for them. In the Catcher in the Rye, Holden is a liar and does not tell you everything, therefore you have to look deeper for what he is trying to tell you. Salinger uses Holden’s internal experience to reveal to the reader his self-perception.

Holden only puts his hunting hat on when he is alone and feels safe. For example, when Holden bought his hunting hat he explained “The way I wore it, I swung the old peak way around to the back–very corny, I’ll admit, but I liked it that way. I looked good in it that way” (Salinger, ). From the moment he bought and put on his hunting hat he felt confident and emotionally secure. Holden takes off his hat when he feels uncomfortable.

The reader sees this when he goes to his apartments and he does not want to be recognized, he states “I’d already taken off my hunting hat, so as not to look suspicious” (Salinger, 174). Holden’s hat plays a big part in how he sees himself. He takes off his hat when he feels bad or thinks people will view him negatively. The reader sees this when he can not read “lousy stories” on the train and just “sort of sat and not did anything”, the one thing he did do was take off his hat (Salinger, 60). Holden feels uncomfortable, the reader can see this as he puts his hat away. Salinger not only uses his hat as his hidden identity, but also as a indicator to how he feels.

When Holden can not deal with life he finds a way to escape. After the fight between Holden and Stradlater, Holden asked Ackley for some cigarettes and when Ackley asked him what the fight was about he did not answer (Salinger, 54). Holden asking for a cigarette, but not answering him shows that Holden does not want to deal with just happened to him. Holden will suppress his problems and leave them for someone else to clean-up; but only he can. The reader sees this when he explains why he left the fencing equipment, he explains “I left all the foils and equipment and stuff on the goddam subway. It wasn’t my fault. I had to keep getting up to look at this map, so we’d know where to get off.” (Salinger, 5-6). When Holden forgets the fencing equipment on the subway he’s subconsciously leaving his problems with no regard for anyone else’s, he just wants to leave the situation and will find anyway to do it. Ironically, this is also the situation where he buys his hunting hat. He’s literally escaping his problems, to find his identity or to at least be himself.

Holden will do anything to try and control the situations he finds himself in.The reader sees this in his constant lying and his desire to leave situations by adult and destructive means. For example, when Holden lies to the Ernest Morrow’s mother on the bus, saying he is “Rudolf Schmidt” because he did not want her to know his “life history”(Salinger, 61). Holden is feeling particularly unconfident, so he lies, preserving his image by creating a new one. Holden not only escapes situations he does not want to be in, he creates ones he does. He later tries to get out of the situation by offering her a cigarette (Salinger, 55-56). Holden uses the cigarettes to stop lying to the mother and leaves her to believe his lies, while he leaves the whole thing behind.

Holden sees everyone as a phony, but does not realize that he is one too. The reader sees this when Holden sees his sister on the carousel trying to reach a ring (Salinger, ). Holden fears she will fall and hurt herself, or even die. Holden believes everyone is always trying to be, or in this instance, reach for something, but when they do they risk the chance of falling and dieing, or how Holden sees it becoming a phony. Holden is obsessed with phonies and not trying to be one. The reader sees as he describes what going to an all boys’ school is like, stating that “…all you do is study so that you can be smart enough to be able to buy a goddam Cadillac some day…[and] everybody [always] sticks together in… dirty little goddam cliques. ” (Salinger, ). Holden believes everyone is a phony, and that he is one of the few real people. The reader sees it in his diction and his actions. Holden feels that he is immune to becoming a phony, the reader can infer this when he states “My hunting hat really gave me quite a lot of protection, in a way; but I got soaked anyway.” (Salinger, ). Holden sees his hat as protection from becoming a phony, whenever he wears it he is more confident and feels secure.

Holden deals with life in an immature way, he holds everything inside. He neglects everything that tries to change him or his life. He hates ¨phonies¨ and fears of becoming one. He tries to do everything in his power to stay ¨real¨, which results in him becoming ¨phony¨. The author uses his actions to show who Holden is to himself and why he flees from life. His choices are a result of what he wants to be in life, since he does not want anything to change and wants to stay ¨real¨, his actions will reflect that. The reader frequently sees this as he takes his hat off and on and has the constant need to smoke. No matter how hard Holden tries to stop life, it does not work, which results in holden complaining and making bad decisions.

Analysis of Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye essay

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Analysis of Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye. (2021, Aug 24). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/analysis-of-holden-caulfield-from-catcher-in-the-rye/


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