Holden Caulfield Analysis

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Colin Jackson
4/26/2012
Ms. Crosby
The Psyche of Holden Caulfield

In J.D. Salinger's "Catcher in the Rye", a hard drinking, chain smoking drop out details his interesting journey home after being kicked out of yet another expensive prep school. This boy, Holden Caulfield, has taken it upon himself to judge every single human being he shares the Earth with and often goes on to excess about the numerous dislikes he has for a person. Perhaps the most curious however, is the fact that almost everything Holden judges others for, he himself is equally if not more guilty of. This tendency for hypocrisy is pervasive throughout the book and characterizes Holden, revealing a lot about the workings of his mind. He often refers to people as "phonies", which ironically seems to refer to anyone who maintains conformity, discriminates towards others, or is a hypocrite. Despite his loathing for hypocrisy and conformity, Holden Caulfield takes both traits to an extreme.

Holden's expectations in people tend to be unreasonably high. He complains about the most trivial things, for example how his roommate has "one of those very piercing that are practically never in tune" and how he selects "some song that is hard to whistle even if you're a good whistler." (27) He even had high expectations for the prostitute he hired. In his mind, everyone else is held to utopian standards, while it would seem he isn't held to any. Obviously this leads to a lot of disappointment for Holden. Whenever everyone fails to meet your standards then everyone seems lacking, something he isn't opposed to saying.

If a single word could describe Holden, that word would be hypocrite. Almost everything he says, his beliefs, his ideals, and his morals, directly contradict with his actions throughout the novel. When he wears his red hunting cap he claims he "doesn't care how he looks" (89) despite the fact he takes it off often saying "I didn't want to look like a screwball or anything." (60) His...
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