Essay – Holden Caulfield is the archetypal 20th Century anti-hero. Discuss.
Holden Caulfield is a typical anti-hero from the 20th century who features as the main character from the novel, Catcher In The Rye by J.D Salinger. The young teenage boy says that he wants to be the one who stands at the bottom of the cliff and catch the children that are playing in the Rye that may run off the edge accidently. This is a dream, not reality however it indicates that Holden is desperate to preserve childhood. Holden is an anti-hero because he lacks heroic qualities. In the novel, he often refers to himself as a yellow character. He wants to hit someone but he won’t because he is too much of a coward and he knows this. Holden talks negatively about most people, often referring to them as “phonies.” Phonies are people whose surface behavior distort or disguise their inner feelings. Holden can be a phony himself and believes if he puts society down, then he can’t be disappointed. He does however, cherish family, more so his siblings rather than his parents. He is very lonely and tends to push people away. Holden has been suspended from four schools. He underachieves, has a habit of being able to lie easily and has a fragile, mental state that ends up leading to a breakdown where he ends up in an asylum.
The first half of Catcher In The Rye focuses on Holden living at a boarding school called Pencey. He has flunked school, meaning that the school has asked him to leave because he only just passed English and failed his other five subjects. He speaks of his room mates in a different matter to that of his family. The main two boys he describes are; Ackley - “a pimply classmate with poor hygiene who constantly barges into the room,” and Stradlater - who is an enemy of Ackleys. Stradlater is “handsome” and is generally one of Holden’s closest mates. However Holden does pick out Stradlater’s flaws when he says that Stradlater is “self absorbed.” Despite their flaws, Holden...
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