What makes a good character? Depth, a relatable personality, development… All are good things to include when designing a character, no matter how big or small. Many background characters remain flat, drifting in and out of the story, but major characters tend to undergo some sort of revelation or hardship that allows them to change, typically for the better. Holden, the main character of Catcher in the Rye has few, if any, of these traits, which makes him a bad, if not downright awful, character.
From beginning to end, Holden is wrapped up in how phony he thinks everyone is. Even his favorite teacher, Mr. Antolini, gets on his nerves. And despite how much Holden praises his sister, he grows short with her. “’She’s a true madman sometimes,’”(165) he says, exasperated with the fact that she is worried about his future. Something so harmless makes him want to give up on her. He can’t develop because he refuses to become close to anyone under the premise that his or her outward appearance and first impression is phony.
A phony personality is just one of the excuses Holden uses to keep his distance, however. Throughout the novel we see countless excuses come up for why he can’t go visit so-and-so or why he can’t call up this friend or that friend. Every time Holden does something wrong, he blames it on someone else and shuts down any argument, yet when he spews word vomit at Sally Hayes he claims “there wasn’t any sense in trying to have an intelligent