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Thomas Kim Period 1 3/15/10 Who Exactly is this Compulsive Liar? Trivial and interesting are the personality traits that come to mind when thinking of the character, Holden Caulfield. The title of the book by JD Salinger reveals much about the personality of Caulfield. Holden Caulfield, the main character of The Catcher in the Rye, is explained in great detail with the title. The life experiences of Caulfield have shaped him in each and every way. Holden Caulfield’s personality is revealed to be protecting, childish, and at the same time very confused.
Holden Caulfield’s personality is very protective and the title of the novel explains how so. For example, Caulfield says, “…I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all,” (Salinger 173). Holden wants to prevent any harm from happening to the children. He is willing to catch all of the children that may fall off the cliff in the rye. This shows that he wants to protect the children at all costs. His main goal is to protect them from all of the dangers in the outside world.
Caulfield does not want them exposed to the harsh truths of the real world and all of the “phonies” that exist within its world. Holden goes absolutely insane when he notices the vulgar writing on the wall in Phoebe’s school (Salinger 201). Caulfield is overprotective around all children, but especially his little sister. He wants them to stay innocent as long as possible. That is why he wishes to be the catcher in the rye. He catches them and keeps them safe from all the dangers of the real world. Holden states that he feels less depressed when he sees the boy singing “If a body catch a body coming through the rye,” (Salinger 115).
This alleviates Caulfield’s mood because he sees that the boy is still a little boy at heart. The boy is authentic, and not a phony. Holden enjoys that he hasn’t been exposed to the truths of the adult world. Furthermore, Holden Caulfield is not only protective, but is also very childish himself. The title of the novel shows that Holden Caulfield’s personality is very childish. For example, Caulfield says, “Anyway, I kept picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all,” (Salinger 173). Holden wishes as if he is a child. He lets his imagination run free and lets his dreams get out of control.
Holden gets carried away with his childish fantasies. Holden gets carried away with his fantasy of going away with Sally Hayes (Salinger 132). He gets very serious about it and that is very childish because it doesn’t even seem plausible. The way that he envisions so many outlandish ideas and talks about them as if they could happen shows that his mental age is at a very low level. His childish acts of getting carried away shows signs of his innocent being. After being angered by the sight of the vulgarity on the wall at Phoebe’s school, Caulfield wants to pummel the person that did it.
But, Caulfield admits that if it were to come to it, he would be too scared to confront him and back out (Salinger 201). Holden is not fully developed mentally and is the real world scares him. He is childish because he states that he wants to do something but ends up going back on his word. Furthermore, Holden Caulfield is not only protective and childish, but he is also very confused about many things in his life. Holden Caulfield is a very confused teenager and the title of the novel reveals this. Phoebe points out to Holden that he had the lyrics of the song wrong (Salinger 173).
Holden does not know the correct lyrics and this proves that he doesn’t know what exactly is going on at all times. He does not know what may ultimately happen in his life. He is confused as to what is going on in the song and thus, his life. Holden is frustrated with himself that when he is to lose his virginity, he halts from doing so (Salinger 92). The innocence that Holden possesses seeps out and takes over at times. He is confused as to what he should do, thus leaving him clueless in the process. After calling in the cheap hooker and not doing anything with her as planned shows the indecisiveness of Caulfield (Salinger 98).
Therefore, he decides to bail out, and shows that he is a coward. He does not know exactly what to do. Holden is an extremely confused character that needs more guiding than just from his conscience. Holden Caulfield is an extremely perplex and vibrant character. The title of the novel proved that he was protective, childish, and confused. His eagerness to be what he is not shows that he isn’t a flat character at all. He is a dynamic character that is easy to love and also relate to. Caulfield jumps out from the page and leaves your mind in a pretzel. It is impossible to decipher who Holden Caulfield truly is.