ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Creating Character: A Lesson From The Catcher In The Rye

Updated on January 12, 2012

Character Development In A Novel

 Character development can be one of the hardest tasks to accomplish when writing a novel.  The goal is to make your characters real and believable.  What may seem real in your head may not come across that way on paper.

I have read many books on character development and it seems that the vast majority of them recommend reading The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger.  This author was praised up and down for his ability to bring his characters to life.

I never was required to read this book in high school or college but my kids were and had liked the book as well.  I figured it was time that I read it for myself to see what I could glean from the author.

The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger

The Catcher In The Rye Book

Well, I read through the book in a weekend. I was anxious to gain insight into this great author's technique.

I found the main character, Holden Caulfield, to be quite depressed. I figured it must have had something to do with his past and the fact that his brother had died. Naturally, I was anxious to find out the cause of his depressed state.

Holden also felt that most people were fakes. He, himself, was quite a genuine kind of guy. You couldn't help but like him even though he was a bit of a downer and swore like no other.

I found myself hoping that he would get some help and resolution to his problem so he could be happy, I quickly read on to get to this point. Each time I thought there might be a turning point for him, there wasn't really.

At the end of the book, he was going to get out of town and start something new. I thought this might be the change for him. But, since his sister was so upset and Holden couldn't take that - he was really tender hearted beneath all the swearing - he stayed close to home.

As a reader, you never find out if he gets out of his depression. You are left with the fact that he is seeing a psychoanalyst and he has no idea if he will start applying himself at school or not.

I was left with a feeling of - what was the point of that? My expectations for the book had been so great. I finished the book at night before bed and just kind of tossed it on my nightstand. The ending was not at all what I had hoped for.  I felt like I had just read an entire book for nothing.  I had kept waiting for something dramatic to happen and yet there was nothing really. I was not happy!

The Next Morning

The following morning I got up and took my shower. While showering I had an uneasy feeling. Then I remembered....oh yeah! I was worrying about Holden Caulfield. He was just a character in a book and yet I was concerned because I didn't know if he had found happiness yet.

That is when it occured to me! J.D. Salinger had brought that character so much to life that I was worrying about him the next day. Unbelievable!  I actually felt like reading the book again to gain more insight.

This is what I needed to do in my writing. I needed to let the reader see my characters emotions, all his faults and feelings and somewhat lovable parts. I had a renewed gusto for writing and I would highly recommend to anyone who is writing fictional characters to read this book.

Watch the video below which is a great book review of The Catcher In The Rye. The reviewer does a great job explaining the book and capturing the emotions you feel as you read and ultimately re-read the book.

Book Review Of The Catcher In The Rye


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Steve Orion profile image

      Steve Orion 

      6 years ago from Tampa, Florida

      Great Hub! Indeed what a job the author did in creating both an identifiable and worthwhile character of Holden. I, in contrast to Ponderation, was very amused and entertained by his narcissism and lamentation of society. I'm writing a Hub now regarding many criticisms of the book; thanks for providing some more insight!

    • Song-Bird profile imageAUTHOR

      Renee Hanlon 

      7 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks for commenting Ponderation. I agree that Voice is a key to the success of the story. There is no way that a reader could get to know the depths of Holden's emotions from any other view point than from Holden himself.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      You are right that Salinger's major skill in Catcher is character development, but you don't really analyze his fictional process. Sure he does reveal and use the emotions of the boy, but how does he manage to get the job done? There seems a delicate balance in the novel between engaging the reader and boring him/her to death with adolescent narcissism. Is the key found in making the reader as sick of Holden as Holden is sick of life? Voice may well be the key here. Voice carries the emerging character and remains highly consistent throughout the novel.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)