The novel's narrator and protagonist, Holden is a high school junior who has flunked out of prep school several times. He is from New York City, where his younger sister, Phoebe, still lives with… (read full character analysis)
Phoebe is Holden's younger sister. Though only 10 years old, she is considerably more mature than Holden, though Holden actually covets her because of her youthful innocence. She is a voice of reason throughout… (read full character analysis)
Holden's former English teacher from Elkton Hills, Holden’s old school. Mr. Antolini is now an instructor at New York University. Mr. Antolini is one of the few adults Holden respects, and one of the… (read full character analysis)
Jane is a girl Holden met while summering in Maine two years before the events of The Catcher in the Rye. A kind young woman, Jane goes to a different private school than Holden… (read full character analysis)
Ackley is a student who lives in the adjoining room to Holden and Stradlater’s room at Pencey Prep. A peculiar and rather annoying young man, Ackley has terrible personal hygiene, bad skin, and unclean… (read full character analysis)
Sally Hayes is a beautiful young woman whom Holden has dated in the past. Like Holden, Sally goes to a private school, but her school lets out for winter break earlier than Pencey, which is… (read full character analysis)
Allie is Holden’s deceased younger brother. Allie died of leukemia when Holden was 13, and the memory of this loss still haunts Holden, who remembers his brother as intelligent, calm, and friendly—in short, the… (read full character analysis)
D.B. is Holden’s older brother. A former army soldier who fought in World War II, D.B. is an author best known for his short stories, which Holden deeply admires. However, D.B. has recently started… (read full character analysis)
Mr. Spencer is Holden’s elderly history teacher a Pencey Prep. When he hears that Holden has flunked out of school, Spencer invites him to his house and tries to motivate him to “play by… (read full character analysis)
James Castle is a student Holden knew when he was still attending Elkton Hills. Holden has an odd respect for Castle because Castle committed suicide by jumping out of his window after refusing to submit… (read full character analysis)
Faith is a former burlesque stripper, and somebody whom Holden only knows through word of mouth. Having heard that Faith is sexually promiscuous, he calls her late at night when he arrives in New York… (read full character analysis)
Three years older than Holden, Luce was Holden’s student mentor at the Whooton School. During this time, he often regaled Holden and other students with stories about sex. Holden still remembers the way Luce… (read full character analysis)
The elevator operator at the hotel where Holden stays on his first night in New York, who turns out to be a pimp—Maurice offers to send a prostitute to Holden’s room for $5. Hesitant at… (read full character analysis)
Sunny is a teenage prostitute who visits Holden’s room at the Edmont Hotel. Although Holden told Maurice—Sunny’s pimp—that he wanted a prostitute, he loses his nerve when Sunny actually arrives. For this reason… (read full character analysis)
Horowitz is a taxi driver who takes Holden from the Edmont Hotel to Ernie’s piano bar. On the way, Holden asks him where the ducks in the Central Park lagoon go during the wintertime… (read full character analysis)
Bernice is a young woman Holden meets in the Lavender Room, the nightclub inside the Edmont Hotel. Bernice is there with two friends and is uninterested in Holden, though she agrees to dance with him… (read full character analysis)
Ernest Morrow’s mother is an attractive middle-aged woman whom Holden meets on the train to New York after leaving Pencey Prep. Mrs. Morrow instantly recognizes the Pencey seal on Holden’s suitcases, so Holden gives her… (read full character analysis)
Lillian Simmons is a young woman who used to date Holden’s brother, D.B. Holden runs into her at Ernie’s piano bar but makes up an excuse so that he doesn’t have to sit with her and her date, since he thinks she’s an insufferable “phony.”
The headmaster of Pencey Prep, Dr. Thurmer tells Holden that life is a game with rules that everyone must follow. Holden repeats this to Mr. Spencer, who agrees with the advice and launches into a lecture, much to Holden’s dismay.
Ernest Morrow is a boy Holden considers to be the “biggest bastard” at Pencey, though this doesn’t stop him from speaking very fondly about him when trying to flirt with Ernest’s mother, whom he meets on the train to New York.
Mal Brossard is one of Holden’s friends at Pencey Prep. On Holden’s last night at the school, Mal goes with him and Ackley to the movies, though they actually end up playing pinball instead.
Mr. Antolini’s wife. Mrs. Antolini cleans up the mess from a party while Mr. Antolini and Holden have a frank discussion in the Antolinis’ living room.