The first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.

Holden is very much a character of contradiction, he is naive and at the same time resentful of the adult world

He has a powerful revulsion for "phony" qualities, a catch-all term for the perceived hypocrisy that irritates Holden.

He himself admits that he sometimes acts more like a 13-year-old than an adult. He continually fails classes.


They kicked me out. I wasn't supposed to come back after Christmas vacation on account of I was flunking four subjects and not applying myself and all. They gave me frequent warning to start applying myself―especially around midterms, when my parents came up for a conference with old Thurmer―but I didn't do it. So I got the ax. They give guys the ax quite frequently at Pencey. It has a very good academic rating, Pencey. It really does.


I used to play checkers with her all the time, she wouldn't move any of her kings. What she'd do, when she'd get a king, she wouldn't move it. She'd just leave it in the back row. She'd get them all lined up in the back row. Then she'd never use them. She just liked the way they looked when they were all in the back row.


I took off my coat and my tie and unbuttoned my shirt collar; and then I put on this hat that I'd bought in New York that morning. It was this red hunting hat, with one of those very, very long peaks. I saw it in the window of this sports store when we got out of the subway, just after I noticed I'd lost all the goddam foils. It only cost me a buck. The way I wore it, I swung the old peak way around to the back―very corny, I'll admit, but I liked it that way. I looked good in it that way.



In Holden's opinion, "phony bastards" are not only his but the worlds' antagonists. Holden is spurred to action (…or sometimes inaction) by all the people he meets who are just putting on a show. Dr. Thurmer the headmaster, George from Andover, Lillian Simmons—basically everyone he meets is phony in one way or another.



Seeing everyone in the world as an antagonist is not only isolating—it's indicative of a clear character flaw. So while Holden sees everyone else as the antagonist, we as the reader can see that Holden himself is his own antagonizing force. He chooses to judge everyone he meets, he chooses to alienate, and he chooses to be alone. When you look at it this way, Holden is his own worst enemy.



Phoebe may be a fourth-grader, but she still has a lot to teach Holden. First, she asks him important and incisive questions (as in, "You don't like anything. Name one thing you like a lot". And she helps him out by covering for him when their mom comes home, lending him money, and putting the red hunting hat on his head when it starts raining.



Allie was Holden’s beloved younger brother who died of leukemia when he was eleven and Holden was thirteen. The night of his death, Holden broke all the windows in the garage and had to be hospitalized. Allie was red-haired and left-handed. He wrote poems on his glove in green ink.