The Similarity Between Salinger's Characters and Prominent Religious Figures

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The Similarity Between Salinger's Characters and Prominent Religious Figures
Author Camille Scaysbrook

There has always been speculation on just how autobiographical Salinger's stories and characters are. The media has undertaken many exhaustive searches for the details that will conclusively prove that he is in fact Buddy Glass, Sergeant X, or Holden Caulfield. In fact, a letter supposedly exists wherein J.D. Salinger admits that Holden is a portrait of himself as a young adult. However, it is also easy to find the religious figures he embraces in his spiritual life imbued in the characters he creates in his writing life. Sybil of A Perfect Day for Bananafish is an obvious example, her name itself meaning in ancient times a mystic or seer. But Holden Caulfield is the most intriguing, and the similarities between himself and various religious figures irrefutable.

Like Buddha, Holden recieves his flash of enlightenment after "meditating" amongst wild animals (at the Zoo). He recieves it not at a river, but in the rain, water being a baptismal symbol in many religions - he says

"My hunting hat really did give me a lot of protection, in a way, but I got soaked anyway. I didn't care, though. I felt so damn happy all of a sudden, the way old Phoebe kept going around and around."

Holden says at the conclusion of the second last chapter, as he witnesses his sister who he has worried about being exposed to the harshness of adult life and change, sitting happily on the carousel - itself a "cycle".

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