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Characters Summary and Analysis of Catcher in the Rye

Characters, Summary and Analysis of Catcher in the Rye

Holden Caulfield - The protagonist and narrator of the novel. When the novel opens, Holden is a sixteen year-old junior at a school called Pencey Prep; he has just been expelled for academic failure. Holden is intelligent and sensitive, but he narrates his story in a cynical, jaded voice. Though he never says so outright, he longs to live in a beautiful and innocent world, and finds the hypocrisy and ugliness of the world around him almost unbearably painful; his cynicism is his attempt to protect himself from the pain and disappointment of the adult world. As the novel opens, Holden stands poised on the cliff separating childhood from adulthood; his damaged innocence also leaves him poised on the brink of a nervous breakdown.

Ackley - Holden's next-door neighbor in the dorm at Pencey Prep, a pimply, insecure boy with terrible dental hygiene. Ackley often barges into Holden's room and acts completely oblivious to Holden's hints that he should leave; he also makes up elaborate lies about his sexual experience.

Stradlater - Holden's roommate. Stradlater is handsome, self- satisfied, and popular, but Holden calls him a "secret slob"--his razor, for instance, is disgustingly unclean. Stradlater is sexually mature and experienced for a Pencey boy, and utterly preoccupied with himself; he tends to assume everyone else is preoccupied with him, too.

Jane Gallagher - Holden's former girlfriend, now dating Stradlater. Jane's summer house in Maine is next door to the Caulfields'. Jane never actually appears in The Catcher in the Rye, but she is extremely important to Holden--she is one of the few people who seem to understand and care about him, and is the only person with whom Holden feels comfortable discussing Allie's death. Jane's stepfather is an alcoholic, and their relationship is painful and strained.

Phoebe - Holden's ten year-old sister. Holden loves Phoebe very dearly; even though she is six years younger, she tends to understand what he means, and he feels comfortable talking to her. Phoebe is intelligent, neat, and a wonderful dancer. Her childish innocence is one of Holden's only consistent sources of happiness throughout the novel.

Allie - Holden's younger brother, who died of leukemia three years before the start of the novel. Allie was a brilliant, friendly, redheaded boy; Holden says he was the smartest of the...

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