Character Analysis Of Holden Caulfield In The Catcher And The Rye

853 words - 3 pages

On the surface Holden Caulfield may appear to be wise, however, upon closer examination of his actions it becomes apparent that his true nature is very foolish. He told us the story of when he left Pencey, and we got the chance to journey around New York City with him. Throughout the story, we witnessed many of Holden's actions, and we heard the thoughts going on inside his head. The way he calls people "phonies" and acts like he isn't a fake liar, or how he has very good manners, can give you the impression that he's wise (Salinger 6). But the truth is, he is a phony himself. Behind his polite manners and clever, judgmental thoughts, Holden is just a foolish boy.
Based on Holden's actions throughout the story, you can tell he didn't think through what he was doing. Holden knew he was flunking four subjects, and that he needed to "start applying himself," but he never did (Salinger 6). He rarely tries to succeed, and he quits when a situation becomes difficult. Holden ran away from school, even though he knew he had no place to go. He stayed in a hotel in New York City, and spent money frivolously. This shows that he runs away from problems instead of facing them, which is an immature quality. When faced with making a choice he takes the easy way out rather than committing to the more difficult choice. Ultimately, this deprives him of achieving goals that could bring him gratification. He convinces himself and the reader that he is clever in the short term, but in the long term he has achieved nothing and has a shallow, empty existence.
Holden makes many wise statements during the story. He states "people always think something's all true" (Salinger 13). In a way, the person reading the story is one of those "people" Holden is talking about. He makes himself seem wise, but his pretentious wisdom is just a cover up and a justification for his childish thoughts and behaviors. He tricks the reader into feeling sorry for him, when it's his own fault that he's in a bad situation. Holden calls himself a "terrific liar," and it's true (Salinger 22). He is always telling people lies, and one day he's going to get into trouble. It's a foolish thing to lie to the extent that he does. For example, he told Ernie's mother that his name was Rudolph Schmidt, who is actually the...

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