Catcher In The Rye As A Hero Analysis

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When one reads Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger or Robert Bolt’s A Man for all Seasons, one is confronted with protagonists that cannot initially be described as classical heroes. On further inspection, however, one can determine that these protagonists (Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye and Sir Thomas More in A Man for all Seasons) server as examples of “unconventional” heroes, but heroes all the same. In this essay I will support this statement by briefly explaining what is meant with the idea of a classic hero, explain the type of heroes Holden Caulfield and Thomas More can be classified as respectively, as well as how their actions and words support the classification. The classic hero is a character present in various religions,…show more content…
Holden Caulfield is a perpetual liar and this resonates throughout the entire novel. It is evident that Holden lies as a strange way to entertain himself, avoid uncomfortable situations or to get himself out of trouble. He even admits to being a liar himself by stating: “I'm the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life. It's awful. If I'm on my way to the store to buy a magazine, even, and somebody asks me where I'm going, I'm liable to say I'm going to the opera. It's terrible.” (Salinger, 2010, 45) This tendency of Holden Caulfield to lie, sometimes without even thinking about it, shows a lack of moral conviction. This stands in complete contrast with Sir Thomas More who refuses to go against his moral standing, even if it means sacrificing his life. According to Richard Lehan (1959: 182) an existential hero’s “tragic quest usually allows no noble form of self-fulfilment…and often leads to a form of self-destruction.” This can clearly be seen in A Man for all Seasons as Sir Thomas More is put to death on an account of high treason for not supporting the King’s Act of Supremacy. One can clearly see how steadfast Sir Thomas More is in his moral standing in his reply to King Henry when asked for his support. On the matter of his conscience, he tells the King: “Take your dagger and saw it from my shoulder, and I will laugh and be thankful, if by that means I can come with Your Grace…show more content…
In Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield isolates himself from society in an attempt to distance himself from the “phoniness” of the adult world. One can see his isolation from society very early in the novel when he is about the only student not attending the football game but rather observing from a distance, away from the crowds: “Anyway, it was the Saturday of the football game…I remember around three o'clock that afternoon I was standing way the hell up on top of Thomsen Hill…You could see the whole field from there, and you could see the two teams bashing each other all over the place…You could hear them all yelling.” (Salinger, 2010: 2) Sir Thomas More also becomes isolated against his own will after being imprisoned for not agreeing to the King’s Act of Supremacy. Besides that, he also willingly isolated himself from his family and friends in order to protect them. He tells the Duke of Norfolk that they must cease to be friends because it is dangerous for Norfolk to know him by saying, “I can't relieve you of your obedience to the King, Howard. You must relieve yourself of our friendship. No one's safe now, and you have a son.” (Bolt, 2009: 46) He also carries on to tell him “We'll do it now, Howard: part, as friends, and meet as strangers.” (Bolt, 2009:
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