Books, The Other Stuff

Holden Caulfield Answers the Sunshine Blogger Award (Exploring What Makes a Favorite Character)

VS 2Answers coming from both myself and The Catcher in the Rye’s Holden Caulfield in this post!

Thanks so much to Nicole at Sorry I’m Booked for the Sunshine Blogger Award nomination! I’m very honored that such a fun blogger enjoys my blog!

As I was writing out my answers to her questions, I started wondering how some of my favorite book characters would answer the very same questions…so I decided to share one character’s (imagined) answers alongside my own! J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye may have actually recently overtaken Wuthering Heights as my favorite book (gasp), so I was curious as to how Holden Caulfield, the narrator of the story, might answer these questions. He’s one of my favorite book characters, but would our answers be similar or different?

Some of Holden’s answers I drew directly from the book, but some I imagined based on his personality. Here are the results, with both of our answers: 

1. What are you currently reading?

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Aubrey: I actually just finished “The Foundling” by Charlotte Brontë last night, which is a super short fantasy (!) novel by the person who wrote Jane Eyre. Next up I think I’ll read the sequel to “The Girl from Everywhere.” I loved, LOVED the first book so I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in this one!

Holden: I liked Romeo and Juliet okay when we read it in school, so I started reading Hamlet. But that play is filled with the biggest phonies you ever saw. First you’ve got old Claudius who gives a big speech to this guy Hamlet about how death is a natural thing, when he’s the one who killed Hamlet’s dad in the first place, and his mom is just as phony by going along with it. Then if that wasn’t enough you’ve got old Hamlet himself who can’t find it in him to do anything about it. He just gets all passive aggressive with pretending like he’s crazy and staging this whole entire play just to make the king feel bad. I guess you can’t blame the guy when he’s surrounded by such phonies like the king and his mom and his girlfriend and his friends, though. Actually, Hamlet is maybe the least phony character in that entire play when you think about it because at least he knows he’s a phony. The rest of them, they’re fooling themselves, too, but Hamlet’s just fooling everyone else. I guess that’s why I like Hamlet, cause I know I’m a phony, too.

2. What’s your favorite meal?

Aubrey: Honestly, this really depends on my mood, but my go-to answer is the crescent rolls my mom makes stuffed with chicken and smothered in cheese. Alongside brown-buttered noodles and some Brussels sprouts, of course! YUM.

Holden: There’s this great ice cream place I take my kid sister Phoebe to, sometimes. I get her the biggest ice cream they have that’s almost as big as she is and watch her go to town. Her eyes will get all scrunched up in this look of concentration. She kills me.

3. What country do you currently live in?

Aubrey: USA. I’ve never lived anywhere else, though I’ve visited other places.

Holden: USA. Land of the phonies.

4. Besides reading, what is one of your favorite things to do/ pastimes?

tiles-2818710_1920Aubrey: I love playing games! Catan, spoons, ERS, bananagrams, etc.

Holden: I like checkers. I used to play with this girl Jane Gallagher I sort of used to go around with. Old Jane would always keep her kings in the back row. That killed me.

5. Do you prefer hardback, paperback, ebook, or audiobook?

Aubrey: Definitely physical copies, but I like both hardback and paperback. They each have their own special feel and associations. I haven’t bought any books for a while (I tend to hit up the library these days) but I used to buy hardback books when they were more recent and the paperback copy wasn’t out yet, so they had a special fresh-off-the-press feel to them that was always special. But if I have a choice between hardback and paperback I’ll go paperback!

Holden: I don’t like audiobooks because I don’t like hearing phony people read their phony books. But other than that doesn’t much matter to me as long as I like what’s inside the book.

6. What is your favorite type of post you do for your blog?

Aubrey: Honestly, I really enjoy doing them all. But one of the quirkier types of posts I make that I especially enjoy creating is the pirate mermaid ARRRiel comics (despite my questionable drawing skills), which so far has Parts OneTwo, and Three. They’re just. So. Fun. Other than that, I also LOVE making Classical Music Stories!

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Holden: I don’t have a blog, but if I did I guess I’d just write whatever came into my mind. I don’t even know if people would actually read it. You know, I’d probably write about things like those ducks in the pond in Central Park and where they go in the winter.

7. What was your most recent trip/ vacation that you took? Where did you go? Did you have fun?

Aubrey: I am currently on a trip/vacation in visiting home away from grad school, and let me tell you I am having fun. I definitely took for granted being so close to home for undergrad!

Holden: I haven’t been on a trip in a while on account of being ill and the doctors putting me in this rest home, but I guess you could say I’m on vacation currently. My brother D.B. comes to visit me a lot so I guess you could say I’m enjoying it, too. Hollywood made him into a phony but not all the time. He’s still good to talk to.

8. What’s your favorite cookie?

IMG_9313 3.jpgAubrey: RECIPE for Aubrey’s (in)famous “cloud cookies”:

1) Bake Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies and let cool

2) Slather buttercream frosting between 2 of said cookies

3) Sprinkle fun sprinkles all along the outside edges of the frosting (note: they must be fun sprinkles. Regular sprinkles are just not good enough)

4) Consume way too many, either at room temp or frozen

5) Simultaneously regret and applaud your life decisions

Holden: During the summer old Phoebe and I will get these boxes of Oreos and I’ll watch her twist the tops off before dunking them in milk and eating them. Then I eat the leftover Oreo tops for her. That just kills me.

9. What’s your favorite season and why?

Aubrey: I actually love the in-between changing seasons most of all. When it’s been so hot and then you feel that first nip in the air, or when it’s been freezing cold and it’s the first day where you don’t have to wear a coat, the weather feels fresh and full of expectation. But if I gave a normal-person answer I’d say fall. Not too hot, not too cold!

Holden: The fall is great. That’s when Phoebe goes back to school and she gets all excited. You’ve never seen anything like it. Mom takes her to the store and she spends ages in each of the aisles, carefully going over all the notebooks and pencils with the most serious look on her face like you wouldn’t believe. She just kills me.

10. How many books are on your TBR list?

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Aubrey: I actually don’t have a TBR list. My moods and preferences change a fair amount so I make the decision as to what I want to read next pretty much at the exact moment I’m ready to start reading something new. Plus, if I made a TBR list I think it would take the joy out of reading and make it more of a task for me personally.

Holden: I don’t have a TBR list. I’d like to read something by Dostoyevsky, though.
And maybe Lord of the Flies.

11. What book are you currently recommending?

Futuristic Violence and Fancy SuitsAubrey: I’d highly recommend “The Girl from Everywhere” by Heidi Heilig if you’re looking for a fresh, adventure-filled YA book about time travel on what amounts to a pirate ship with a little non-obnoxious romance thrown in for good measure.

Another book I recently fell in love with is “Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits” by David Wong. It’s got the quirkiest laugh-out-loud humor, a cat named Stench Machine, futuristic violence, and fancy suits, so what could be better? If this blog had a dark, violent spirit animal in book form this would be it.

Holden: You could read Romeo and Juliet if you wanted. Parts of that were alright. Les Misérables, now there’s a book I can’t stand. This guy Jean Valjean keeps getting stabbed in the back by all these phonies for the entire book. Like every page there’s another phony. I really can’t stand it.

***

So this post may have been more than Nicole bargained for, but I found it really interesting to try to answer these questions from Holden’s perspective! He’s a pretty cynical character, but one thing he cares about more than anything is his sister and people like Jane who aren’t afraid to do the unexpected (like Jane keeping her kings in the back row). They’re not being “phony” and pretending to be someone they’re not just to please other people. Everything Holden actually enjoys, then, seems to revolve around a perceived lack of phoniness.

So are Holden and I actually similar?? One thing we do have in common is how much what we enjoy is based on the people we’re with (like my favorite foods and vacations). Holden and I also like reading classic literature, though I think our tastes would differ in certain ways (I happen to LOVE Les Mis but I really don’t think he would). One other thing I hadn’t realized before writing this post is that we both enjoy playing games, too!

But other than that, while I admit that I can also fall into the trap of being too cynical at times, thinking through these questions from Holden’s perspective made me realize how different we really are. I wonder, then, what really makes a “favorite” character become a “favorite.” Is it only necessary to find one or two key similarities between a character and ourselves in order to like them? Or could it be that liking a character is driven by something completely unrelated to similarity?

Why do you like your own favorite characters? Let me know in the comments below!

***

For exploring a different character’s perspective on music, check out the 4-part mini-series Music in Wonderland: The White Rabbit’s Proof

You might also like: If Literary Characters Had Favorite Holidays

10 thoughts on “Holden Caulfield Answers the Sunshine Blogger Award (Exploring What Makes a Favorite Character)”

  1. What makes a “favorite” character? That’s a good question.

    Not all characters I end up loving in books are characters I relate to. Their storylines could be intriguing after all, their personalities could be fascinating, they could be well-developed but I do not like all well-developed character, plus how they respond to certain situations. There are some characters in books I have read that I have fallen in love with, but have no clue way. Certain characteristics I tend to look for such as brave, strong, compassionate, and loving I look for in a character.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so interesting! There really does seem to be more to favorites than similarity. And from what you’re saying it sounds like similarity may not be important at all in some cases! I have so much to think about now haha. Thanks for sharing your experiences! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So true… And that’s another great one! Because maybe the reader doesn’t really like where they started or where they ended up entirely but the journey itself or the process of growth is meaningful. Is that what you mean?

        Like

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