Holden: narrator and main character; adolescent young boy, age sixteen, who searches for people and things which aren’t phony; envisions himself as a “catcher in the rye” who saves small children from death; throughout the story Holden attempts to preserve the innocence and genuineness of life, though his mental sickness prevents him from separating good from evil.
Phoebe: Holden’s 10-year-old sister who he loves very much because she represents all that is not phony in the world; she is able to articulate Holden’s beliefs better than he can himself.
Allie: Holden’s beloved brother was died of leukemia before the story began; he also represents all that is genuine and not phony; Holden sees him as the role model of the perfect human because he was nice to everyone he ever met.
D.B.: Holden’s older brother who has sold out to Hollywood as a prostitute; he’s also a phony; Holden admires him in a way but not nearly as much as he admires Allie.
Parents: Holden’s mother and father represent what he considers phony; he never has a conversation with them throughout the book and tries to avoid them as much as possible.
Mr. Spencer: Holden’s history teacher who he admires and then feels sorry for after he visits him at his home; Holden realizes that Mr. Spencer is just a pathetic old man who he can no longer relate to; this begins to show Holden’s lack of positive adult role models.
Mr. Antolini: Holden’s English teacher who respects and believes he can always turn to for help; this illusion is shattered when he suspects that Mr. Antolini is coming on to him; this serves to further confuse Holden.
Ackley: friend from Pencey Prep.; described as a pimply guy who never goes out and has few friends; Holden feels sorry for him even and is nice to him though he really doesn’t like him much.
Stradlater: Holden’s Prencey Prep. roommate; when Holden questions Stradlater about having sex with Jane Gallagher, he punches Holden.
Sally Hayes: a good-looking yet unintelligent girl who Holden goes to a play with; she repesents middle class values about success and happiness.
Jane Galangher: Holden’s childhood friend who always kept here kings in the back row in checkers.
James Castle: student at Holden’s school who commits suicide instead of giving in to the bully he called conceited; Holden admires this boy more being a martyr for justice.