Other characters

Robert Ackley

In J. D. Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye, Robert Ackley is one of Holden’s senior colleagues at Pencey. Physically, Ackley is “one of these very, very tall, round-shouldered guys – he was about six four – with lousy teeth” (p. 20). One of the things that Holden focuses on is Ackley’s lack of personal hygiene and manners – like cutting his nails on the floor of Holden’s room (p. 25) – which makes him the target of his peers: 

And they had this goddam secret fraternity that I was too yellow not to join. There was this one pimply, boring guy, Robert Ackley, that wanted to get in. He kept trying to join, and they wouldn't let him. Just because he was boring and pimply. (p. 180)

Besides Ackley’s disgusting personal habits and lack of hygiene, Holden also describes him as having “a terrible personality” (p. 20). He constantly barges into Holden’s room, picking up personal items and being oblivious of Holden’s constant hints that he should leave (p. 22). Nevertheless, his presence takes Holden’s mind off Stradlater’s date with Jane. Holden is also compassionate around him and, despite not liking him, he invites Ackley to the movies with him and another colleague. In the end, Holden reveals that he misses Ackley (p. 230) and his other colleagues at Pencey.

Carl Luce

Carl Luce is Holden’s former colleague at Whooton School (p. 64). He is three years older than Holden and he currently goes to Columbia University (pp. 147-148). Holden recalls that, even though Luce was his Student Adviser at Whooton, his only concern was teaching the younger students about sex: “The only thing he ever did, though, was give these sex talks and all, late at night when there was a bunch of guys in his room. He knew quite a bit about sex, especially perverts and all” (p. 154). Luce’s sex stories are also the ones that scare Holden and that make him fear that he is going to become a homosexual.

Although Holden wants to reconnect with him, Carl Luce displays a more mature attitude and shows Holden that he is not in the mood for his childish questions: “Listen. Let's get one thing straight. I refuse to answer any typical Caulfield questions tonight. When in hell are you going to grow up?” (p. 157).

Carl Luce’s father is a psychoanalyst, so Luce advises Holden to seek professional help (pp. 159-160). However, Holden ignores his advice and they part ways. Luce’s presence in the novel highlights Holden’s cu...

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