Analysis of Holden Caulfield from the Novel The Catcher in the Rye
The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, is home to the protagonist Holden Caulfield. There is no coincidence that he holds a striking resemblance to the author of the novel himself. Salinger seemed to have a similar childhood as Holden describes in The Catcher in the Rye. Both men also seemed to have a certain fascination with younger children, especially younger women. J.D. Salinger based one of his most famous characters, Holden Caulfield, on personal experience.
Holden’s story in The Catcher in the Rye begins with Holden at his school, Pencey Preparatory, which is a boarding school. He was sent there by his parents, who seemed to be withdrawn from his life. Similarly, Salinger’s parents sent him to Valley Forge Military School, where he had a neighbor who always seemed to be barging in, showing a resemblance to Ackley. The reader learns that Holden is the son of wealthy parents from New York. It turns out that J.D. Salinger was also born in New York to upper-class parents. It seems as though Holden Caulfield’s childhood is an identical match to that of J.D. Salinger’s.
Salinger had a deep love and fascination with young children, especially young women. In the 1970s, Salinger maintained a close connection with an eighteen year-old girl, Joyce Maynard, who eventually moved in with the author. J.D. Salinger continued to have many relations with younger women, much like this one. His fascination with young women is reflected in Holden, who has a similar mind-set. Even as a seventeen year-old, Holden is infatuated with his perception of Jane Gallagher as a little girl. It is this picture of innocence that Holden is in love with, and not what Jane is like now. The concept of, “the catcher in the rye,” itself projects his interest in children. He day-dreams about standing at the edge of the rye field catching any children that are too close to the edge of the cliff. Salinger used Holden to vent his love, and passion for children.
Holden is almost an identical representation of what J.D. Salinger is truly like. His adoration for young women is shown in Holden’s love for Jane, and in the concept of, “the catcher in the rye.” Both show similarities in their childhoods, from growing up wealthy in New York, to being sent away for school. J.D. Salinger used Holden Caulfield to expose his personal life, and possibly his personal feelings.