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.