Limited access

Upgrade to access all content for this subject

Referring to Jane, Holden says

She was sort of muckle-mouthed. I mean when she was talking and she got excited about something, her mouth sort of went in about fifty directions, her lips and all. That killed me. And she never really closed it all the way, her mouth. It was always just a little bit open, especially when she got in her golf stance, or when she was reading a book. She was always reading, and she read very good books. She read a lot of poetry and all.

In the passage above, what does Holden's description of Jane reveal about her character?


Holden's description of Jane demonstrates two aspects of her character. The first is that her innocence and purity represent Holden's ideal image of childhood. And, in Holden's point of view, Jane does not possess any traits that suggest phoniness.


Holden's fondness for Jane's “muckle-mouthed” visage implies that Jane is very loquacious and chatty. Holden's narrative also communicates that these qualities comprise the side of Jane's personality which Holden likes best.


When Holden describes Jane in terms of her love of books and poetry, Holden's characterization of Jane echoes that of Allie. In drawing this parallel, Holden indicates the extent to which Jane trusts Holden; this passage reveals the closeness and intimate dynamic of their friendship.


Holden's portrait of Jane in the passage at hand serves as a foil to Holden's description of Sally Hayes, which occurs in a later chapter of the story. Holden presents Sally as someone who parrots what other people say and is overly concerned with her image. But Jane, by contrast, is characterized in the passage by her lack of concern with how she appears to others.


Holden's characterization of Jane, in addition to drawing parallels between her and Allie, reveals that Jane is not concerned with image; she is not self-conscious and isn't concerned with the way others perceive her. Holden's description of Jane as excitable and “muckle-mouthed” reveals too her childlike enthusiasm disregard for what her reactions appear like to others.

Select an assignment template