The Catcher in the Rye Main Characters – Introduction
The novel’s main character, Holden Caulfield, wears many hats. He is the narrator, the protagonist, and also the antagonist. This is a novel very much about the inner thoughts and demons of a young man trying to find his way in the world. As he struggles to find a sense of belonging, it becomes apparent that almost every other character also serves as an antagonist to Holden as well. However, nobody stands in the way of Holden’s happiness more than himself as he continually see the bad in situations and people. This coming of age tale bleakly reveals the pains of growing up by centralizing Holden Caulfield as both hero and victim.
The Catcher in the Rye Character List
Who Are the Main Characters in Catcher in the Rye?
- Catcher in the Rye Protagonist – Holden Caulfield
- Catcher in the Rye Narrator – Holden Caulfield
- Catcher in the Rye Antagonist – Holden Caulfield; everyone else
Holden Caulfield Description
Holden Caulfield Character Traits – Holden is sixteen years old who, at the beginning of the novel, is expelled for academic failure. The audience learns that this is not the first time Holden has failed to live up to standards at a school and he feels lost because of this. As the novel’s narrator, he takes on a harsh and cynical view of the world around him. He brings attention to the hypocritical nature of the people he knows and shows what it is like to navigate the disappointment that young adults feel when they start to realize how harsh the world can really be. However unsatisfied Holden is with the world around him, readers can see that he himself acts out some of the same values he so strongly detests, and this is how he comes to be the antagonist as well. He tends to hold himself back without even noticing.
Phoebe Caulfield Description
Phoebe Caulfield Character Traits – Holden’s little sister. She tends to serve as someone wise beyond her years, who holds a loving but critical light to who Holden is and how he behaves. Instead of sympathizing with Holden after he fails out of school, Phoebe becomes frustrated and tells Holden that he needs to grow up. This is exactly the problem that Holden is having—he hates to leave behind the comfort of childhood innocence and is having a hard time figuring out how to grow up. However, without Phoebe’s critical eye on Holden, the audience would only have his perspective and might not see how unreliable of a narrator he really is. Phoebe is crucial to the full development of Holden’s character. Phoebe also provides an opportunity to see Holden’s softer side, as he cares a great deal for his sister.
Mr. Spencer Description
Mr. Spencer Character Traits – Teacher of Holden’s who speaks plainly to Holden about his academic failures and about how he needs to grow up and take responsibility for himself. This angers Holden and he refuses to listen. This shows the start to a pattern of negative relationships that Holden has with older men.
Carl Luce Description
Carl Luce Character Traits – An older boy who Holden meets up with in the city after he leaves school. Holden hopes to receive some advice from Carl, since he’s older but not quite fully grown up yet. However, Carl does not have much patience for Holden’s trials and tribulations and says that Holden needs psychiatric help.
Mr. Antolini Description
Mr. Antolini Character Traits – A former teacher of Holden’s. He is one of the last people Holden labels as a “phony” and as such, Holden drunkenly seeks him out for advice. However, Mr. Antolini does not have appropriate boundaries as he welcomes Holden late at night into his messy apartment. When Mr. Antolini touches Holden’s forehead after he’s fallen asleep, however, Holden interprets this as an overstepping of personal boundaries and leaves in a hurry, shaken and disappointed.
Stradlater Character Traits – Holden’s school roommate. He has all of the qualities of a “phony” that Holden hates.
Ackley Character Traits – Holden’s school neighbor. He is slovenly and unkempt, qualities which Holden finds repulsive.
Jane Gallagher Description
Jane Gallagher Character Traits – Holden’s childhood crush and symbol of his unwillingness to let go of his childhood.
Allie Caulfield Description
Allie Caulfield Character Traits – Holden’s younger brother who died three years before the novel takes place. Allie’s death had a profound impact on Holden, especially as he navigates growing up.
D.B. Caulfield Description
D.B. Caulfield Character Traits – Holden’s older brother who he sees as a sellout.
Sally Hayes Description
Sally Hayes Character Traits – An attractive girl who Holden dates but never really likes.
Maurice Character Traits – The elevator attendant/pimp who sends a sex worker to Holden.
Sunny Character Traits – The sex worker who visits Holden and steals money from him.
- 1 The Catcher in the Rye Main Characters – Introduction
- 2 The Catcher in the Rye Character List
- 3 Holden Caulfield Description
- 4 Phoebe Caulfield Description
- 5 Mr. Spencer Description
- 6 Carl Luce Description
- 7 Mr. Antolini Description
- 8 Stradlater Description
- 9 Ackley Description
- 10 Jane Gallagher Description
- 11 Allie Caulfield Description
- 12 D.B. Caulfield Description
- 13 Sally Hayes Description
- 14 Maurice Description
- 15 Sunny Description