Antiheroes

1674 Words7 Pages
If one were asked to give a brief description that defines his or her favorite hero, it would be a very rare occurrence to get a response such as “a cocaine addict, workaholic, and peculiar genius with an indifference to sexuality,” or perhaps “an army general with an increasing bloodlust and an intense thirst for power.” However, despite these less heroic qualities, characters like these tend to appeal more to readers of literature — especially the contemporary audience — than traditional heroes. So what exactly makes them more appealing and do their unconventional qualities actually have an effect on the works of literature that they are in? In order to begin understanding the answers to these questions, it is important to recognize what…show more content…
Instead, the global principle behind an antihero is the idea of imperfection and reality over fantasy, which allows readers to better put themselves in the shoes of the protagonist. A novel that has continued to demonstrate this universal notion is J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye featuring Holden Caulfield as the epitome of “adolescent alienation” making him one of the easiest characters to relate to (Katz 536). His journey of self-discovery, his conviction towards the injustice of the world, and his overall demeanor has formed a sort of literary network: an element of literature that any audience member can relate to in one way or another. Consequently, The Catcher in the Rye has become a worldwide hit — especially among younger readers — with total sales of over sixty-five million and annual sales of about a quarter million (Katz 536). So, not only did Caulfield as an antihero drastically boost the popularity of Salinger’s work to the English audience, he also, after being translated into all of the world’s major languages, found his way into the hearts of readers around the…show more content…
Take, for example, the scene where Caulfield hires a prostitute during his roam through Manhattan. This was obviously not his most heroic moment, but it revealed more about Caulfield than Salinger’s audience may have first expected from a scene of this nature. What becomes revealed can be observed after Holden hires the prostitute, gets undressed, and gets into the bed. During this part, the idea of sex barely crosses his mind; in fact, he actually starts thinking about Jesus, the Bible, and the concepts of forgiveness and insanity within different biblical allusions (Katz 536). This might seem perplexing at first since he admits that he is an atheist, but, despite his lack of religion, Caulfield actually holds Jesus under a superior veneration. He continues to ponder on his past arguments with a boy at his old school about whether Jesus had sent Judas, the traitorous Disciple, to heaven or hell (Katz 536). Holden believes that regardless of Judas’s treachery and whether or not any of the Disciples would have sent Jesus to hell, Jesus would not have done the same to Judas (Katz 536). This faith in Jesus’s ability to forgive lets on that Caulfield understands the main principles of faith and has some values that could be considered
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