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Holden Caulfield as a Hero

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Essay title: Holden Caulfield as a Hero

Holden as a Hero

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger is a story about the trials of life and the toll it can take on the psyche. I believe that Holden Caulfield is an under credited hero. He is a teenager forced to grow up in a time of turmoil with severe emotional handicaps placed upon him by family, friends and life in general.

Holden is one confused kid trying to beat the Man in the 1950’s. He grew up ignored by his parents, drifting from school to school in search of a purer lifestyle. On page one Holden humbly describes his lousy growing up. “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you will probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like…but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth…that stuff bores me.” Holden does not want to go into his childhood and play the victim. He tells us that he had a rough time and leaves it at that. Later in the book he alludes to how his parents just shuffled him from school to school hoping that he would do better at the next one. All he tells us about is his dad is that he is a big shot corporate lawyer, not much about what kind of father he was. Suggesting that he was gone a lot and not around to give a good role model for Holden. In turn it shows up in Holden’s attitude towards adults.

Throughout the book Holden shows his resentment towards the Man. He always refers to how phony the authority figures are. Multiple times he talks about his old headmasters who were very phony. They would only talk to the parents who had money and influence. They would ignore those who struggled to get their kids into the school and did not wear the finest clothes. He rebelled against the common conceptions of age and maturity. He believed that you should be considered mature when you could thin for yourself and make your own choices, not when you reached a certain age or certain physical appearance. He wanted to be treated like an adult and resented others judging him based on his age.


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