Characterisation of Holden Caulfield in the Catcher in the Rye

Topics: Lie Pages: 1 (325 words) Published: January 7, 2009
Salinger uses effective characterisation to explore how Holden finds growing up painful and difficult. Holden is frightened of maturing because he has convinced himself that the adult world is corrupt, and that all the adults are “phony”, hypocritical and false. He has made this generalisation to detach himself from adults, to resist entry to the society that they belong to. Holden's actions contradict what he believes as he is a compulsive liar; “I have this tiny tumor on the brain.” Holden is not shy to lie to people around him. He lies to Mrs Morrow – the woman he meets on the train after leaving school –because he does not like interacting with new people or opening up to them, in case they are “phony”. Holden cannot reach full maturity because he ignores advice of his elders, like Mrs Morrow, as he does not want guidance in his journey to adulthood – he does not want to become what society wants him to become, so he remains a child. Holden's own physique is telling him to change and to mature into adulthood despite what he believes, “I'm six-foot-two-and-a-half and I have grey hair.” His body appears to be maturing, but his mind lacks this development and remains child-like. Salinger uses this contrast of his emotions with his physical appearance to imply that his body is telling him to grow up, but his mind is resisting, in order to stay innocent and pure for as long as possible. Salinger even uses his name to show his youthfulness , Holden Caulfield can be broken up into 'Hold-on' as if he is not ready to grow up, and that it is too difficult for him to handle. And 'Caul' is apart of the amnion, which protects the baby's head during birth, this relates to Holden as he is metaphorically protected by this and does not mature as a result.
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