Holden Caulfied:Which Character Gives Us Who He Is? Essay, Research Paper
Holden Caulfield, the main character in J.D. Salinger?s The Catcher in the Rye, is very complex, mentally and emotionally. The readers of the novel would not be able to understand Holden as much as they do, if it was not for Holden?s deceased younger brother Allie. Although Allie is never actually met in the novel, Holden?s discussions about him and his ?conversations? with him help us understand Holden better. It may seem strange that a dead character would shed so much light on a living one, but Holden had a strong bond with Allie, one that he refuses to give up.
Our first introduction to Allie is early in the book when Holden is writing a paper for his roommate Stradlater. Holden writes about his brother?s baseball mitt, a very personal object that sheds light on how much Holden loved Allie. Writing this composition provokes him to say, ?It wasn?t just that he was the most intelligent member of the family. He was also the nicest, in a lot of ways.? It becomes very clear right away that Holden loved and respected Allie, and was very sad that he was gone. As previously stated, Holden had a bond with Allie that he refuses to give up. The night after he died, Holden punched out all of the windows in the garage and even broke his hand. The signs don?t stop there, though. After Holden ordered a prostitute in New York and decided he didn?t want her services, he was feeling rather depressed. He said, ?I felt so depressed you can?t imagine. What I did, I started talking, sort of out loud, to Allie. I do that sometimes when I get very depressed.? This is the first major indication that Holden has rather severe emotional problems. Holden inability to give up his relationship with his brother is very interesting. One of the main reasons that Holden liked Allie so much was because of his innocence and his purity. Since Allie died at a young age, he died with innocence and he will be forever innocent. Holden never wanted Allie to change. We know this because he said, ?Certain things they should stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone.? Allie innocence and Holden?s respect for us tell us a lot about what Holden believes in. Holden believes in innocence, and he is against society corrupting the innocent. It is incredibly important when Holden says:
When the weather?s nice, my parents go out quite frequently and stick a bunch of flowers on old Allie?s grave. I went with them a couple of times, but I cut it our. In the first place, I certainly don? enjoy seeing him in that crazy cemetery. Surrounded by dead guys and tombstones and all. It wasn?t too bad when the sun was out, but twice-twice-we were there when it started to rain. It was awful. It rained on his lousy tombstone, and it rained on the grass on his stomach. It rained all over the place. All the visitors that were visiting the cemetery started running like hell over to their cars. That?s what nearly drove me crazy. All the visitors could get in their cars and turn on their radios and all and go someplace nice for dinner-everybody except Allie. I couldn?t stand it.
Holden is obviously still troubled by the fact that his younger brother is dead. The way he speaks about his brother being dead is in a harsh, angry tone. Although it may seem like something minor, it is another indication that Holden is mentally and emotionally unstable. When Holden told Phoebe, ?I know [Allie?s] dead! Don?t you think I know that? I can still like him though can?t I? Just because somebody?s dead, you don?t just stop liking them for God?s sake-especially if they were about a thousand times nicer than the people you know that?re alive and all.? , he was letting her know how much he still loves his brother even though he is deceased.
There were many examples in the book that showed Holden was disturbed or unstable. Holden was not crazy by any means, he just needed help. He needed somebody to talk to, someone that he could confide in and talk about Allie. Holden told the readers metaphorically that he wanted to save children playing in a rye field, about to fall off of a cliff. Maybe this thought is because he wants all children to remain innocent, the way that Allie remained forever. In the end, Allie really let the readers discover how much Holden truly wanted some help.
Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger