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Characters / The Catcher in the Rye

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Caulfield Family

    Holden Caulfield 

Holden Caulfield

  • Ambiguous Situation: Was Mr. Antolini making a pass at him? Has he been sexually abused in the past? Unclear given Holden's Unreliable Narrator status.
  • Anti-Hero: He's cynical, hypocritical, and perfectly willing to flunk out of school, but he's also insecure of himself and ultimately isn't so bad.
  • Big Brother Instinct: To his younger siblings, Allie and Phoebe. The two of them are some of the only characters Holden never speaks ill of.
    • This really extends to all children. That's why he's furious about dirty words written where schoolkids might see them. And his "catcher" fantasy is him keeping children safe from harm.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Implied to be academically talented, but too cynical and depressed to apply himself.
  • Consummate Liar: Holden has a tendency to lie about everything. His family, his backstory, his classmates, even his own name. He lies so much, many readers have started to wonder just how much of the story he claims to be telling them is really true.
  • The Cynic: In the literary world, Holden Caulfield is probably the crowned king of this trope. His attitude towards practically everything is either cynical or bitter.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: It's strongly implied that his brother Allie's death is what made Holden the bitter individual he is today.
  • He-Man Woman Hater: Downplayed. He’s not afraid to call Sally a Brainless Beauty.
  • Heartbroken Badass: The death of Allie sends him into severe depression.
  • Holier Than Thou: Holden's pretty judgmental and has a strict moral compass, despite his own inconsistency. He has a hard time dealing with the "phoniness" of the adult world.
  • Hypocrite: Quite a big one.
    • Holden’s accusations of people being "phony" rings somewhat hollow since he lies about himself numerous times.
    • He refers to himself as a pacifist, but he ends up starting a fight with Stradlater.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Holden is cynical, pessimistic, a habitual liar, and overall bitter person. But deep down, he has an unspoken appreciation for the people he meets throughout the book and genuinely loves his siblings. Especially Phoebe.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Prototype rich NYC kid who is shipped from boarding school to boarding school, and has trouble connecting with people.
  • Rebel Prince / Rebellious Spirit: He’s a wealthy rebel with a cynical opinion of life.
  • The Runaway: A classic literary example. Holden runs away after being kicked out of school in order to prove a point to society. He also wants to run away with Sally, but she calls him out for said Pan being ridiculous.
  • Sex Is Evil, and I Am Horny: Probably one of the biggest examples of this trope. Holden feels uncomfortable when it comes to sex, but admits to feeling the urge to try it. This ends up biting him when he agrees to have a prostitute brought up to his hotel room, and starts backing out.
  • Shared Family Quirks: The only subject he's not failing is English, which seems to be an intellectual passion of the Caulfield family.
  • Sour Outside, Sad Inside: He's a rude, sarcastic snarker that he lets everyone get to know, but he's shown multiple times he's far from heartless. Not once had he said anything bad about his brother Allie, who died of leukemia.
  • The Snark Knight: Has a snarky quip about everyone and everything.
  • Start My Own: One of his reasons for running away.
  • Troll: Calls himself a "terrific liar" and enjoys making up silly stories/questions to strangers, or saying things just to get a reaction.
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    Phoebe Caulfield 

Phoebe Caulfield

  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Phoebe hates her middle name "Josephine" and is always trying to come up with a new middle name.
  • Little Sister Instinct: Ironically, she seems to be more mature and down to earth than Holden. She can always tell when he's lying and is usually the only person who can really knock some much-needed sense into him.
  • Morality Pet: For Holden.
  • Shared Family Quirks: Loves creative writing, just like her brothers.
  • Teen Genius: Or pre-teen genius rather, she's very eloquent and creative.

    D.B. Caulfield 

D.B. Caulfield

  • Ambition Is Evil: Holden feels D.B. is squandering his talents for the sake of money and prestige. YMMV if this is the case.
  • Doing It for the Art: Averted, much to Holden's chagrin. Holden says that D.B.'s short stories were amazing, but now he's a Hollywood sellout.
  • Nice Guy: Holden describes him as being this, despite being a Hollywood schmuck.
  • Sellout: Holden regards D.B.'s Hollywood career as this, stating that D.B. "prostituted himself".
  • Shared Family Quirks: He's a professional writer, a talent common in the Caulfield family.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: He served in World War II and participated in D-Day, and his experiences are heavily implied to haunt him.

    Allie Caulfield 

Allie Caulfield

    Mr. & Mrs. Caulfield 

Mr. & Mrs. Caulfield

  • The Ghost: They're mentioned every now and then, but don't really appear in the book. If anything, Mrs. Caulfield is heard off page talking to Phoebe.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Implied to be this. Holden doesn't blame them for feeling frustrated with him for getting kicked out of school, and they clearly make an effort with him and his siblings.

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Holden's Friends and Acquaintances

    Stradlater 

Stradlater

  • Big Man on Campus: Stradlater is good looking, talented, and charming to girls.
  • Lovable Jock: Stradlater is very affable and athletic.
  • Odd Friendship: He and Holden are a peculiar pair of roommates to say the least. Stradlater is pretty tolerant of Holden's quirks, and Holden respects Stradlater despite seeing him as a "phony" in a sense.
  • Really Gets Around: To the point where he has trouble remembering his dates' names.

    Ackley 

Ackley

  • Jerkass: He's surly and condescending.

    Sally Hayes 

Sally Hayes

  • Brainless Beauty: Holden describes her as this, but that might just be his inner-cynic talking.
  • Foil: To Jane, who Holden considers to be more genuine and complex.
  • Genki Girl: Very excitable and cutesy.

    Jane Gallagher 

Jane Gallagher

  • Abusive Parents: Her stepfather is implied to be physically and/or sexually abusive, and there also appears to be substance abuse issues in her home.
  • Birds of a Feather: Like Holden, she's got a troubled past and enjoys playing checkers.
  • Chastity Couple: She and Holden were never sexually intimate, and mostly played checkers and talked.
  • Loving a Shadow: Holden seems more infatuated by the memory of her than the reality of her.
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