Holden As a Character

Holden as a character…..

Holden indeed is a very strong character; there is no denying that. Now whether the character is likable, that is all a matter of opinion. Holden can be believed as a real person, because he is not perfect. Holden is consistent in his actions in that he keeps up the same attitude, actions and behavior throughout the novel. In the very beginning of the novel, Holden tells the reader, “I’m the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life.” Now whether or not you agree with the morality of this trait, this is a character trait. The characteristic of lying in Holden is strewn out through the novel. Whether he is lying to a woman on the train about his alleged brain tumor, or if he is getting drinks at a club, Holden always seems to be lying.

Another aspect of Holden we see is Holden’s negativity. Again, with lying, whether or not you agree with his negativity, that does not deny that he is a very real and believable character. This negativity has been reflected by Holden’s complaints with many benign things in life. For instance, in Chapter four Holden talks of Stradlater’s razor in a very negative way saying “…you should’ve seen his razor he shaved himself with. It was always rusty as hell and full of lather and hairs and crap he never cleaned it or anything.” Now this negativity makes a character extremely believable and opens the character up for psycho-analysis. Take this question, “Why is Holden so negative?” The answer as far as we’ve read is, that he is just dissatisfied and gripes about the most normal things, that don’t effect him directly. Now that is a very easy thing to say but if you look deeper, you could see actual psychological problems with Holden that may indicate his constant negativity. Maybe Holden is Manic-Depressive or more commonly known as Bi-Polar. This illness is characterized by change in mood very rapidly, theses moods can be positive and negative. Holden could be considered Manic-Depressive because of his rapid mood changes and random outbursts of negativity. This creates a real character, and the ability to recognize the protagonist not as a hero clad in shining armor, but a real man clad in jeans and a T-shirt.

Now is Holden a fully developed character? In my opinion no. Not in the sense that his personality is not fully developed, which it is. But in the sense that he is still just a 16 year old kid. He is not a fully developed character because he is not a fully developed human being, he has much to learn about being an adult and living in such a tough world. Holden tells us, “I have lousy vocabulary partly because I act quite young for my age sometimes. I was sixteen then, and I’m seventeen now, and sometimes I act like I’m about thirteen.” This clearly shows that Holden realizes he is not an adult, but in fact just a kid. Now him being young could be related to his negativity in the sense, that his misunderstanding with an aspect in life may lead him to internally deny, or criticize something he doesn’t fully understand. In chapter 12 Holden grabs a cab with a “Sore” cab driver. Holden starts to talk about ducks, we are not sure why but he asks the cab driver Horowitz what happens to the ducks in winter. The driver responds in an irritated fashion yes, and Holden claims he is the most sore guy you’d ever met. Holden’s evidence to this is that you could say anything to him and he’d be all sore about it. Holden’s criticism of Horowitz may come from his misunderstanding of what Horowitz was thinking, I mean imagine being a cab driver. You drive all day, you’re tired, you’re bored, you’re irritated with life and out of nowhere one of your faceless passengers starts to ask about ducks of all things. Personally I would not be all to willing to engage in a conversation about ducks after a hard day’s work. Holden in my opinion is not a developed character because he has little understanding of others and has much to learn. But is this a negative factor to the novel? Of course not! This creates a rich plot and lots of room for story progression. Holden will learn lessons through trial and error. Holden is not a developed character but he is a character that will develop through out the novel and that’s what keeps us reading.

-Patrick Armstrong&&<3’s


Holden Caulfield is he reliable in narrarating A Catcher in the Rye?

Is Holden a reliable narrator?

From what I have read of this novel my best guess is no, Holden cannot adequately give the story a view of the facts but rather a skewed view of the world from his pessimistic point of view. The world in his eyes is full of problems, many of them being benign. Holden doesn’t like much of anything as he has illustrated to us in many of his judgmental paragraphs critiquing small things. This I believe creates little plot and creates a sense of boredom for the reader. Now I am in favor completely with pessimistic commentary on ones surroundings like in Crime and Punishment where Rodya the narrator indeed criticize and complain much. But the difference between Rodya and Holden is that Rodya is starving, lives in a closet, and is poor and hasn’t seen his family in a year, now Holden is just an angst filled teen who is failing because he is lazy and he just doesn’t care. Holden not only has a skewed outlook because of his distaste in life itself, he also told us flat out he is a liar. So what is preventing him from lying the whole way through, is there really an Allie? Essentially we cannot believe anything he says or take anything as seriously as he presents it.

Now I am fully opposed to having Holden be the narrator, but to fully understand the point I am trying to make you must look at the other side. The other side being that Holden is actually the best narrator because of his brutal straightforward approach to life. His blatant criticism of life may be just pointing out the sad facts of life. This argument can definitely be made but alas it is not a very strong argument for this reason.

If Holden would be critical of life as a whole criticizing¬† how society works and how humans interact etc. Taking a more philosophical approach to his cynicism I would be alright with that. Holden does not take that approach he just complains and complains and complains about the most pointless things that aren’t even relevant to his well being or himself. So all in all Holden is just a mean kid who doesn’t care for anyone, lies and relentlessly complains.

So no he is not.

Patrick Armstrong&&Heartzz

What was life like in 1949, when Holden Caulfield was a teenager?

Holden Caulfield is a teenager living in Pennsylvania in 1949, what was life like?

Holden if he was a real person would be 78 years old, what would he look back on and say was significant in his life. What would he tell us life was like? What did teens do? What was their slang? What was the popular music? What was a preparatory school like?

Before I address these questions what the heck happened in the USA way back then 62 years ago? Well some notable events include:

  • January 11, KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh became the first local Television station ever
  • February 10, Death of a Salesman premiers at the Morsoco Theatre and runs an astounding 742 performances!
  • March 4, the first around the world trip ends in Fort Worth, Texas the plane lucky lady II a B-50 Superfortress refueled in flight 4 times!
  • April 4, NATO Defense Alliance¬† is formed in the United States!September 4,
  • Truman announces that the Soviets have the Atom Bomb! The Arms Race begins!!!

As you can read 1949 was a big year in relevance to the Cold War. It was a very cold year with record storms and snowfall. Now what was life like for everyday Americans specifically Teens.

What Music was popular?

From what I have read 1949 was the beginning of the Be-Bop 50’s era some of the popular artists of the time were Frankie Laine, Spike Jones, Vaughn Monroe and Perry Como.

What was their Slang?

Dame-Woman, Broad-Woman, Kisser-Mouth, Swell-Wonderful, Jalopy-Crappy car, Hardboiled-Strong guy, Heebie Jeebies-freak out, Keen-Attractive, Ritzy-Elegant, Scram-Leave, Cool-cool as we know it now, Stuck on-Crush on

What did Teens do?

Teens in the Forties would generally stray away from adults like teens do as well in our generation. Along with being with just friends they would go for walks, dancing and just generally enjoyed life, contrary to teens nowadays they did not par take in drugs as much as teens generally do now and in the forties couples and teens in general were a bit more “wholesome”.

What was a preparatory school like?

Living in a preparatory school as Holden describes it is not that fun or that good of a time. With little privacy and little personal space some kids would feel cooked up and become recluses through this sort of system. They lived all year in these schools except for on holidays. They took classes every day and had little free time from their rigorous schedules and learning.

-Patrick Armstrong&&Heartzzz