Holden Caulfield Unreliable Narrator

Topics: The Catcher in the Rye, Last Day of the Last Furlough, J. D. Salinger Pages: 4 (1530 words) Published: March 27, 2009
Essay Outline

In J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, the narrator, Holden Caulfield, is an unreliable narrator. Discuss and analyze the text to support your argument.

“I’m the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life” (Salinger 14). JD Salinger’s character Holden Caulfield admits himself that he is unreliable. The author portrays Holden as a teenage boy that brobdingnagianly lies to people that he doesn’t know. This makes the reader question if he lying to us? Holden does lie on many occasions, but usually it is to protect others and himself from pain and disappointment, yet one cannot disclude the fact, that when Holden lies, the reader also learns more about the nature of Salinger’s character.

JD Salinger shows Holden in the light of a teenage boy with problems who lies in order to protect himself from others. Holden states that “I have this tiny little tumor on the brain” (Salinger 51) as he talks to Mrs. Morrow on the train station before heading off in separate directions. Salinger purposefully made Holden state the blunt lie, as it shows how Holden is trying to protect himself, and even his family, from feeling ashamed. Holden does not want to explain how he got kicked out of his former school, and hence he is ‘on vacation’ a few days earlier than the rest of his classmates. In addition, Salinger’s character Holden

“decided I’d take a room in a hotel in New York (…) till Wednesday. Then, on Wednesday, I’d go home all rested up and feeling swell. I figured my parents probably wouldn’t even get old Thurmer’s letter saying I’d been given the ax till maybe Tuesday or Wednesday” (Salinger 45). The author’s character creates a plan in which he would purposefully delay his arrival at home in order not to see his parents earlier than Wednesday. Through this scene, the author demonstrates how Holden does not like disappointing people he cares about, and hence makes up lies and plans so that his beloved ones would not find out the truth...

Cited: Salinger, J D. The Cather in the Rye. London: Penguin Books, 1956. 1-192.
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