J. D. Salinger’s Caulfield Family

The Caulfield family includes Holden, Salinger’s most famous character, as well as Vincent, subject of many of his earlier stories.

Caulfield Family Stories

Vincent stories

These early Caulfield stories are a kind of alternate universe for fans of The Catcher in the Rye — the time period is shifted by roughly five years with an older Holden killed in the war. The names of the Caulfield children are also changed somewhat: D. B. becomes Vincent and Allie becomes Kenneth. These Vincent stories also include the Gladwaller family which is absent from the later Holden stories.

As part of the story arc, Vincent is killed in World War II. This leaves his close friend, Babe Gladwaller, to tell Vincent’s girlfriend of his death.

Holden Stories

Salinger wrote about Holden, using him as his main character after 1945. He actually credits Buddy Glass with the writing of Catcher in the Rye, linking the Caulfield and Glass families in that one conceived of the other. The Holden stories all relate to the eventual plot of The Catcher in the Rye, which would become the last of the series.

  • Are You Banging Your Head Against the Wall? (1941, unpublished) Reworked into Slight Rebellion Off Madison
  • Holden On the Bus (1942, unpublished)
  • I’m Crazy (1945) An alternate take the first chapters of Catcher
  • Slight Rebellion Off Madison (1946) An alternate take on chapter 17 of Catcher
  • The Boy in the People Shooting Hat (1948, unpublished) This story of “Bobby” and Stradlater later became chapters 3-7 of Catcher
  • The Catcher in the Rye (1951) Holden’s account of leaving school

Caulfield Family Tree

These characters change over the span of several stories, making a strict family tree impossible. Vincent and D.B. appear to be the same character, as Allie and Kenneth appear to be the same character. We aren’t sure just who Curtis Caulfield is.