Greatest Fictional New Yorkers #1: Holden Caulfield

01---holden.gifName: Holden Caulfield
Residence: East 71st Street
Likes: His brothers and sister, Jane Gallagher, those crazy ducks in the Central Park lagoon
Dislikes: Goddmaned phonies
Memorable quote: “Sleep tight, ya morons!”

The term “angst-ridden teen” doesn’t do justice to this native New Yorker, who’d probably slit his wrists before calling himself a New Yorker, a label he’d surely hate. He simply grew up on the Upper East Side, the second oldest – and the “dumbest” – of four siblings: D.B., a writer and “prostitute” in Hollywood, his younger brother Allie, dead three years from leukemia, and his much-loved younger sister Phoebe.

Thrown out of yet another private school, sixteen-year old Holden spends several nights wandering the city, from Times Square, to the Village, to the Museum of Natural History, encountering hypocrisy and “Fuck yous” everywhere. “I think, even,” he says, “if I ever die, and they stick me in a cemetery, and I have a tombstone and all, it’ll say ‘Holden Caulfield’ on it, and then what year I was born and what year I died, and then right under that it’ll say ‘Fuck you.’ I’m positive, in fact.”

In the end it’s Phoebe who brings him around, convincing him to stay and let got of his madman’s idea of hitchhiking out west and working on a ranch. For the first time in a long time he feels happy as he sits in the rain and watches his sister ride around and around in the carousel in Central Park.

Holden hasn’t been seen in quite some time. Some say he did make it out west. Others claim that he never moved from 71st Street. I’d like to believe he’s still here, listening to jazz downtown, feeding the ducks at the lagoon, and watching that goddamned carousel, because despite all his rantings and ravings about phonies, crooks, and bastards, Holden loved this city, and I’d like to think he’d never leave, despite its scars. Because of them.


Other Fictional New Yorkers in this series

7 Comments so far

  1. Sean (unregistered) on August 19th, 2006 @ 7:18 am

    Not much going on in the Big Apple right now?

  2. ~dana (unregistered) on August 21st, 2006 @ 6:32 pm

    Let’s talk after London does a list, eh?

  3. Tim (unregistered) on August 22nd, 2006 @ 8:57 pm

    George Costanza demands a recount.

  4. Allen Khodabash (unregistered) on August 22nd, 2006 @ 10:53 pm

    I heard Holden blew up his townhouse more than a month ago.

  5. Doris Night (unregistered) on August 23rd, 2006 @ 8:54 am

    allen: good one.

  6. PanAsianBiz (unregistered) on August 26th, 2006 @ 9:20 am

    Have you read Catcher recently? I remember thoroughly enjoying it in high school, as most teens do. But after reading it more than a decade later I was disappointed to find that it didn’t realy stand the test of time with me. So — I can’t agree with your assessment of HC as the Greatest Fictional New Yorker!!

  7. Doris Night (unregistered) on August 28th, 2006 @ 12:04 pm

    yes, i have read catcher recently, and i was surprised that it resonated even more with me now than it did when i was a teenager. it’s much funnier than i remember it to be, and just as sad. also, i think i got more out of it as a city dweller than as a kid in the ‘burbs.

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