Holden? What Holden?


So here we go, Identity and Belonging, madman stuff, catching the little children before they fall off the cliff. I bet you're wondering what all this means and where it's heading. I mean you're probably thinking I should have started properly and explained myself or at least what this section of cyberspace is all about.



Sample Commentary



´╗┐America in the 1950s: Rebellious Youth


Post-War America was a time of significant social change. The effects of the war were such that people felt they could not go back to the society and values that had been prior to this conflict and upheaval. In relation to Salinger's Catcher in the Rye, it was the period when youth rebelled against the conventional ways of their parents and sought to reject or change social institutions and taboos, including sex before marriage. While mainstream society projected images of a neat, safe, white middle class suburbia, prospering from the post-war economic boom, the undercurrents carried the birth of rock 'n' roll, Elvis Presley and teenagers being recognised as a demographic in their own right. James Dean and Marlon Brando epitomised this youthful rebellion on the big screen in films such as 'Giant', 'Rebel without a Cause' and 'The Wild One', while Elvis Presley's swinging hips and suggestive dance moves whipped thousands of teenagers into a frenzy unseen by their parents' generation. Presley was considered so dangerous an influence on youth that when he appeared on the mass-rating 'Ed Sullivan Show', he was filmed from the waist up. The 1950s was a pre-cursor to the 'peace, love and understanding' preached by the 1960s 'love generation', a period that pushed the boundaries even further with its free love, sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll.

Below are some clips that helped define rebellious youth of the 1950s. Enjoy!















Character Name

Page/Chapter references and Notes

Holden Caulfield
The seventeen-year-old narrator; reflects back on the preceding year
'I was sixteen then, and I'm seventeen now', p. 8
'I'm the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life', p. 14
'I'm the only really dumb one', p. 60
D.B. Caulfield
Holden's older brother; a writer who now lives in Hollywood working as a 'prostitute', ie. writing for the movies. p. 1, p. 60, p. 72, pp. 78-79, p. 106, pp. 126-7, p. 184, p. 192
Allie Caulfield (deceased)
Holden's brother who died of leukemia.
'He was two years younger than I was, but he was about fifty times as intelligent.' p. 33
Holden is still grieving over Allie's death; note his view of Allie's intelligence and the manner in which he spent the night after Allie died - 'I slept in the garage the night he died, and I broke all the goddam windows with my fist, just for the hell of it.' p. 34
p. 60-61, p. 154, p. 178, p.139-140, p. 154, p. 178
Phoebe Caulfield (aka Hazel/Hazle Weatherfield
Holden's ten year old sister. Like Allie, he regards Phoebe as being more clever than himself. She is an important source of advice and support to Holden. It seems that she is the only living person he truly loves and trusts. See chapters 10, 21, 22, 23, 25, also p. 106, pp. 140-141
Mr Caulfield
a lawyer
p. 97, p. 155
Mrs Caulfield
p. 70,
'She hasn't felt too healthy since my brother Allie died', p. 97
Mr/Old Spencer
Holden's history teacher at Pencey Prep., chapter 2
'Life is a game, boy. Life is a game that one plays according to the rules.' p. 7
p. 151
Dr Thurmer
The headmaster of Pencey Prep., chapter 1, p. 151
Selma Thurmer
The headmaster's daughter, chapter 1
'she wasn't exactly the type that drove you mad with desire. She was a pretty nice girl, though...she didn't give you a lot of horse manure about what a great guy her father was' pp. 2-3
Robert Tichner & Paul Campbell
The boys who feature in one of Holden's few memories of being at Pencey - 'I suddenly remembered this time...were chucking a football around, in front of the academic building.' p. 4
Mr Haas
Principal of Elkton Hills, chapter 2
'the phoniest bastard I ever met in my life', p. 12
Mr Ossenburger
Pencey Old Boy, 'he made a pot of dough in the undertaking business' (p. 14) whose donations to the school lead to construction of Holden's dorm, the Ossenburger Memorial Wing.
Edgar Marsalla
Provides comic relief for Holden and his Pencey classmates, p. 15
Ward Stradlater
Holden's room-mate at Pencey. Chapters 3 and 4, chapter 6
'Stradlater was a very sexy bastard..He was too conceited.' pp. 28-29
'God, how I hated him.' p. 36
p. 192
Robert Ackley
The boy who rooms nextdoor to Holden at Pencey. Chapter 3
An unwelcome, lonely boy with dubious personal hygiene.
p. 40, chapter 7
'You're a real prince. You're a gentleman and a scholar, kid.' p. 42
p. 151, p. 192
Sally Hayes
'this girl I used to go around with in New York', p. 17, pp. 95-96, chapter 17, chapter 20
Jane Gallagher
Holden's neighbour, with whom he used to play checkers. She re-enters his universe when Stradlater takes her to the football game. Chapter 4
'Ask her if she still keeps all her kings in the back row', p. 29
p. 56, chapter 11, p. 95, chapter 18, p. 182
Mal Brossard
A friend of Holden's at Pencey Prep., chapter 5
Ed Banky
The basketball coach at Pencey Prep. Lends Stradlater his car, p. 37, p. 43
Mrs Morrow
Mother of Holden's Pencey classmate, Ernest Morrow, who he meets on the train to New York after leaving Pencey, pp. 47-52
Rudolf Schmidt
The first alias Holden uses when he meets Mrs Morrow. 'Rudolf Schmidt,' I told her. I didn't feel like giving her my whole life history.' p. 48
'I was beginning to feel sort of sorry I'd told her my name was Rudolf Schmidt.' p. 49
Carl Luce
A student at the Whooton School.
'I didn't like him much', p. 53
p. 123, p. 126
'He was supposed to be my Student Advisor', 'He was strictly a pain in the ass, but he certainly had a good vocabulary.' chapter 19
Anne Louise Sherman
Part of Holden's troubled history with the opposite sex and sex in general.
'I spent the whole night necking with a terrible phony named Anne Louise Sherman. Sex is something I just don't understand.' p. 56
Faith Cavendish
The girl Holden calls up from the Edmont Hotel
'this girl that wasn't exactly a whore or anything but that didn't mind doing it once in a while', p. 57
Bernice, Marty & Laverne
'the three witches at the next table' to Holden in the Lavender Room, chapter 10
'I tried to get them in a little intelligent conversation, but it was practically impossible. You had to twist their arms.' p. 65
Horwitz
The cabbie in New York City who Holden talks to about the ducks in Central Park lagoon. Chapter 12
Raymond Goldfarb
A fellow student at the Whooton School with whom Holden shared a pint of scotch, p. 82
Maurice
The elevator operator in Holden's hotel, chapter 13, pp. 90-94, p. 192
Sunny
The prostitute sent up to Holden's room by Maurice, chapter 13, pp. 90-93
Jim Steele
Holden's second alias - he first uses it on Bernice, Marty & Laverne (p. 65) and then with Sunny (p. 85)
Arthur Childs
A boy who lived down the corridor from Holden at the Whooton School.
'Old Childs was a Quaker and all, and he read the Bible all the time.' p. 90
the two nuns
pp. 97-102
Holden befriends them while eating eggs in a coffee shop in New York near Grand Central Station. He enjoys talking to them and gives them ten dollars, wishing he could give them more. A sign of Holden's capacity for kindness.
Dick Slagle
Holden's roommate at Elkton Hills, p. 97
the boy on Broadway
Holden's attention is drawn to him because his family seems nice but poor and he is singing 'If a body catch a body, coming through the rye'
'The kid was swell. He was walking in the street, instead of on the sidewalk'
'It made me feel not so depressed any more.' p. 104
Mr Antolini
Holden's English teacher at Elkton Hills. He goes to visit Mr Antolini and his wife in New York in Chapter 24.
'He was about the best teacher I ever had', p. 157
chapter 25
James Castle
Holden's classmate at Elkton Hills who jumps out of a window and kills himself rather than give in to a group of bullies, p. 153, p. 176
the deaf mute
Holden fantasises about being a deaf-mute and getting married to 'this beautiful girl that was also a deaf mute', pp. 178-179