Todd Anderson (Dead Poets’ Society)
At Vermont’s all-boys Welton Academy, it was a teacher who showed his students to break away from the conformity of their conservative aristocratic environment in the 1989 film
Dead Poets Society. One such pupil, the perpetually nervous Todd Anderson (Ethan Hawke) eventually breaks through his shy exterior, channeling the creativeness he finds he possesses with the help of his English teacher John Keating (Robin Williams). From his adolescent alienation, Anderson eventually loses his innocence, akin to Salinger’s most celebrated character in shouting, “O Captain! My Captain!” in support of his fallen professor amid scandal. In his unintentional, but shrewd way, Anderson enlightens those around him. “Truth is like a blanket that always leaves your feet cold,” he says in the film. “You push it, stretch it, it’ll never be enough. You kick at it, beat it, it’ll never cover any of us. From the moment we enter crying to the moment we leave dying, it’ll just cover your face as you wail and cry and scream.” Holden Caulfield would have understood.