Holden Caulfield=J. D. Salinger?
"The narrative—Salinger’s only novel—is told in the first-person voice of Holden Caulfield. That voice is Salinger, direct and unfiltered by the artifice of third-person camouflage, It’s his life, his thoughts, his feelings, his rage, his big beautiful middle finger to the phonies of the world,” (Shields).
Holden Caulfield feels like such a real, genuine person that readers find it hard to believe that Holden isn't Salinger, or Salinger isn't Holden. In Salinger, Shields and Salerno insist that much of the pain Salinger experienced during World War II is contained in the character of Holden, which is one of the reasons the character is so relatable. "Although the reader is unlikely to know the extent to which Salinger’s Post-traumatic Stress Disorder informed Catcher, the book is a worldwide phenomenon because he has buried that trauma inside Holden. All of us are broken; everyone, at some point, especially in adolescence, feel irreparably damaged, and we all need healing. Catcher provides this healing, but just barely. You don’t even know how—there is just enough of an uplift at the end, but you don’t feel you’ve been given a cure-all; you just feel healed on some deep, inarticulate level,” (Shields).
His retreat from popular society has made things murky; some think Salinger's reclusive life has caused this idea to intensify. “Why Salinger chose to drop out of sight and then out of print is his own business, and it probably ought to have nothing to do with the way people read the work that he did publish. But it does. Readers can’t help it. Salinger’s withdrawal is one of the things behind, for example, Holden Caulfield’s transformation from a fictional character into a culture hero: it helped to confirm the belief that Holden’s unhappiness was less personal than it appears—that it was really some sort of protest against modern life. It also helped to confirm the sense, encouraged by Salinger’s own later manner, that there was no distinction between Salinger and his characters—that if you ran into Salinger at the Cornish, New Hampshire, post office (which is where his stalkers generally seem to have run into him) it would be exactly like running into Holden Caulfield or Seymour Glass. By dropping out, Salinger glamorized his misfits, for to be a misfit who can also write like J. D. Salinger—a Holden Caulfield who publishes in The New Yorker—must be very glamorous indeed,” (Menand).
Ron Rosenbaum emphatically believes that Salinger is not Holden and doesn't understand why others hold onto this impression. "Do I have to say the obvious? I feel like I’m telling a child about Santa Claus. Or a 17-year-old (Holden’s age and the age beyond which anyone should know this): Holden does not exist! Holden is a fictional character in a novel by J.D. Salinger. And J.D. Salinger was a gifted 30-ish writer whose accomplishment in the novel was precisely the ability to distinguish and distance himself from Holden’s over-the-top, hysterically polarized division of the world into pure and impure people. To observe it with beautiful verisimilitude, to sympathize with its ardent romanticism to an extent, but not to endorse its hysteria as his own., (Rosenbaum).