Character Analysis: Catcher in the Rye

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June 12, 2012
Catcher In The Rye Essay

A role model can be can classified as one of many things, but what is it exactly that distinguishes a good one from a bad? The novel, The Catcher in the Rye, written by J.D Salinger is utilized to present the character Holden Caulfield as an unsuitable role model. Firstly, Holden relies on drugs for a way out of his problems instead of facing them. Also, he cannot find his place in the world, which arises, from his natural inclination to lie and is a problem he can’t seem to avoid. Lastly, his view on the world is tainted with carelessness and failure.

Holden’s drug usage throughout the novel can be related to the effect that his family has on him; he is unable to find that comfort from his surroundings so he reverts to drugs. Holden does not set a good example for teens as he is only fueling temptation. Therefore, Holden’s belief of maturity and adulthood revolves around some idea of drugs. Many times in the novel, Holden tries to get his hands on alcohol; "Can’t’cha stick a little rum in it or something?" (Salinger 76); or he is smoking; "She took a cigarette off me and I gave her a light." (Salinger 56). The stress of Holden’s life comes from a variety of different sources, for instance his family and schooling can sometimes become unbearable that he resorts to stimulants (Shmoop E.T). This is still a very true reality today for many adolescents in today’s society. It is Holden's rejection that forces him to act the way he does. To compensate for having no friends of his own age, he looks to the older and younger. Although he is immature, Holden tries to act like an adult by smoking and drinking in hopes that he will find companionship (S.N). He even admits, though, "I'm a goddamn minor." (Salinger 70) When this approach fails, he goes to the complete opposite of the spectrum, which is looking for comfort in younger people.

Holden Caulfield is acknowledged as an unreliable narrator evidenced through...
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