The Character of Holden Caulfield in “The Catcher in the Rye”

November 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger is one of the most praised and important works of the modern American literature of the 20th and 21st century. This book which is set in the end of the 1940’s and beginning of 1950’s has as the main protagonist Holden Caulfield, he is characterized by his eccentric personality to say the least. He has a weird attitude and has a difficult personality. His personality allows the reader to think a lot about who he really is and every aspect of his complex personality, way of thought and his role in the development of the book. Most novels and books portray in some way an epic hero, there are many traits an epic hero in a novel has or portrays, in this essay I will be analyzing if the character of Holden Caulfield has this traits and is an epic hero or not.

In the book, the main character, Holden Caulfield is portrayed as your usual or average teenager except with some troubles and suffering moments he goes through in development of story, such as the death of his little brother which he so deeply loves. Moments like these are the ones that make Holden the person he is, and builds up the way he acts and his personality, making him act in a very unsensensible and a carper. In the novel Holden speaks a lot about death, suicide and tragedies, which are an obvious representation of how the death of his little brother and the things that happen in his life change make him who he is and the way he acts through the rest of the story. Holden has a very evident characteristic and it is one that shows a lot, and it is that he lies about many things even to himself. When he is asked if he is fine, he will answer he is, even though he is doing terribly. He is a person who does not really bond with anyone, mainly because he always has something negative to say about people, which funnily enough he never speaks about himself. He is someone who would come off as a coward who thinks every possible thing about everyone, negative or positive, and won’t say to their face, he will just hide it to himself.

Holden is a character that tries very hard to avoid strong feeling, he attempts to be somewhat of a cold person even though he really can’t, mainly because of what he’s been through, he is constantly thinking of his little brother’s death which makes his very sad, on top of all of the other things going in his life. He has roommates that he hates, he is getting kicked out various schools and at this point he is a very lonely person who barely has any friends, so he is having a very hard time which to be honest any human being would be very emotional and very troubled with. So he tries to hide these feeling so that he doesn’t have to think about the reality he has right in front of his eyes, he is afraid to what he really is going through. So the point of this essay is to debate if Holden Caulfield is an epic hero in the novel of the “Catcher in the Rye’ or if he isn’t.

“Epic heroes” are characters who inspire and make the reader aspire to be or do what the hero is has or his doing, a hero is someone who is strong, courageous, brave and many others. Being that said, we can conclude that Holden does not portray the any of the characteristics that the “epic hero” as previously stated, as a matter of fact the description of Holden Caulfield matches more with the one of the antihero. Even so he is just an average human being who goes through some very tough obstacles in his life and seems very affected by these circumstances.

If I were to be in a somewhat similar situation to the one that Holden Caulfield is going in “Catcher in the Rye”, I think I would deal with the situation even worse than how the main character of this story does. Holden deals with a lot of pressure and strong emotions, such as loneliness, non-acceptance, depression and many others that for most people are very, very hard to cope with. Being kicked out of school, constantly losing friends are things that would probably hit me very hard in “emotions department”, not to mention the topic of the death of such close person as Holden’s little brother and severe depression. I would probably just sit down and cry all day, and try not to deal with reality, very similar to what Holden tries to do, trying to hide these feeling that deep inside he knows he cannot avoid, and that every time he thinks about them, it will create a deep sadness within himself.

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