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Catcher In The Rye By J.D. Salinger: How Secondary Characters Reveal The Personality Of Holden

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Based on the interactions and presence of secondary characters in the novel Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger, Holden’s character can be revealed as inauthentic and immature. The secondary characters in the book hold a small part overall but the effect of the characters reveals parts of Holden’s personality. After Holden gets expelled he goes to meet his history teacher, Mr. Spencer for the last time as a goodbye. As Mr. Spencer was trying to encourage Holden to care for his future Holden ignores him and begins to flatter the teacher with lies in hopes of getting Mr. Spencer off of his back by saying “ how people didn’t appreciate how tough it is being a teacher … the old bull” (Salinger 17). His interaction with Mr. Spencer, who is trying to help him proves his willingness to become inauthentic, to preserve himself is high. He would rather feed someone who cares about him lies just to get himself out of a situation that could potentially cause him to open up as a person and figure his future out. Holden’s fear of growing up and settling a future into adulthood begins to show as he constantly deflects statements and ideas suggested by people. Afterward, Holden seems to regret going to see Mr. Spencer “Boy you can’t imagine how sorry I was getting that I’d stopped by” (Salinger 15). The words were said after Mr. Spencer lectured him about actually trying to make decent marks so his future could be bright. His narrative of what’s happening begins to seem inconsistent because Mr. Spencer’s actions clearly show he cares about Holden and wants to help. The interaction with Mr. Spencer shows he struggles to be authentic because of his constant criticism of others which masks his own inauthenticity.

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Another secondary character who reveals a large part of Holden’s personality is Jane. Jane is a girl from his childhood who Holden greatly admires and is the only character whom Holden does not have anything negative to say about. When Holden is told about Jane by his roommate Stradlatter he becomes excited like a child in a candy shop. Holden said, “Jane Gallagher I nearly dropped dead … I used to play checkers with her all the time and she wouldn’t move her kings … she’d line them all up in the back row” (Salinger 40). The second Holden is told about Jane he instantly starts reminiscing the past in his childhood. The readers begin to understand his infatuation isn’t about Jane but rather the idea of her. His memories of Jane are so perfectly idealized because of the perfect representation his mind has created. Then Holden repeatedly states, “ Jane Gallagher I ought to go down and say hello… Stradlatter responds, Why the hell doesn’t you instead of keep saying it. ( Salinger ). His memories of Jane are so perfect that meeting Jane could tarnish the perfect vision he created of her. this represents how stuck in the past Holden is and his ability to constantly romanticize the past but not take action.

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Catcher In The Rye By J.D. Salinger: How Secondary Characters Reveal The Personality Of Holden. (2021, July 30). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 5, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/catcher-in-the-rye-by-j-d-salinger-how-secondary-characters-reveal-the-personality-of-holden/
“Catcher In The Rye By J.D. Salinger: How Secondary Characters Reveal The Personality Of Holden.” Edubirdie, 30 Jul. 2021, edubirdie.com/examples/catcher-in-the-rye-by-j-d-salinger-how-secondary-characters-reveal-the-personality-of-holden/
Catcher In The Rye By J.D. Salinger: How Secondary Characters Reveal The Personality Of Holden. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/catcher-in-the-rye-by-j-d-salinger-how-secondary-characters-reveal-the-personality-of-holden/> [Accessed 5 Dec. 2022].
Catcher In The Rye By J.D. Salinger: How Secondary Characters Reveal The Personality Of Holden [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2021 Jul 30 [cited 2022 Dec 5]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/catcher-in-the-rye-by-j-d-salinger-how-secondary-characters-reveal-the-personality-of-holden/
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