Distinctive Personality Traits of Holden Caulfield

“The Catcher in the Rye,” by J.

D. Salinger, explores the distinctive personality of many characters. The most distinctive character in the novel is Holden Caulfield, who is the narrator of the book. Holden can be described as distinctive because he is afraid of change, he hates phonies and he distinguishes himself from everyone else by wearing a red hunting hat. Holden’s curiosity regarding where the ducks from the Central Park lagoon go during the winter, reveals a distinctive trait about Holden: he’s afraid of change. Holden’s primary goal is to resist growing up because he wants everything in life to be easy.

Holden’s obsession with the duck and where they go in the winter symbolizes his hatred of change. The ducks returning in the spring symbolizes that although things change, it is usually temporary. Furthermore, the pond is a metaphor for Holden’s views of the world, seeing it as “it was partly frozen and partly not frozen. But I didn’t see any ducks.” Just as the pond is moving between to states, Holden is also moving from the state of childhood towards adulthood.

The ducks in the central park lagoon is an event in Holden’s life that conveys Holden’s distinctive characteristics of being afraid of change. The word “phony” is used repeatedly by Holden which makes him unique because no other characters in the book uses that word. Holden uses the word “phony” to describe people who are insecure, superficial and shallow. The use of this word uses the technique of irony – although Holden hates phonies, he is one, himself. This is depicted when he gave Ackley “a big phony handshake.” This visual description of ironic behaviour shows that Holden is a very hypocritical narrator because he is able to acknowledge his surroundings of other character’s phony behaviour but doesn’t realise his own phoniness, for example by acting like an adult or teenager whenever it’s convenient for him, shows a sign of phonin..

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