Character Analysis: The Catcher In The Rye

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Everyone wants to feel wanted and needed. Those who don’t feel like they have a place, search for the purpose of life. They search for a place they do belong, a place they are wanted and needed. Not everyone will realize or acknowledge this, but it is undeniably true. In the novel The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, the main character Holden is searching for where he belongs; a place where he will be able to do good and help others. Holden ultimately wants to feel important and needed, and this is shown throughout the novel. In the beginning, just after Holden leaves Pencey Prep, he goes to a phone booth because he is feeling lonely and wants to talk to someone to cheer him up a bit. Holden “felt like giving somebody a buzz...[but he]…show more content…
In the middle of the novel, Holden goes on a date with a girl named Sally. He and Sally go to the movies despite Holden’s strong dislike for the theatre. He has a decent time and afterwards Sally decides to have him come ice skating with her. As they are alone, Holden comes up with an absurd proposal. “‘How would you like to get the hell out of here?’” Holden asks Sally (Salinger 132). Holden did not seem to be all that fond of Sally before this point. He seems like he cared more for Jane, so asking Sally to run away with him seems rather insane. Holden has been really lonely, and when he was finally able to spend some time being happy with Sally he finally, for a moment, feels like he belongs there with her. Holden immediately reaches out to take hold of that feeling of belonging by asking Sally to run away with him, showing that he is not only looking for a place where he feels he truly belongs and is important, but once he has a glimpse of that he chases after it, outlining the importance of having a place for Holden. Sally immediately shoots down his proposal, calling him crazy and getting all upset. According to Holden, he and Sally “both hated each other’s guts by that time.” (Salinger 133). The reason Holden thinks this is because is really hurt by Sally’s decline of his proposal and as a way of defending his emotions against her rejection he claims they…show more content…
She asks Holden what he plans to do when he gets older, and he replies, “‘Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around--nobody big, I mean--except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff--I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going 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. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be. I know it's crazy.’” (Salinger 173). The reason Holden wants to be a catcher in the rye is because he would be wanted, needed, and he would really belong there. He would be in a big beautiful field saving lives and helping others, doing something truly important. Since Holden wants to be a catcher in the rye, this reflects his wish to be somewhere he feels he truly belongs. Hence, throughout the novel, Holden has a lot of different conflicts going on. Despite all of the other things going on in his life, the one issue that always presses itself throughout the entirety of the novel is Holden’s search for someplace he truly belongs, a home where he can feel wanted and important, a place where he is useful and

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