The Catcher in the Rye Themes (Resource: Schmoop)

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  • Created by: Jadii
  • Created on: 21-11-13 12:45

Right, so I found this really good website called Schmoop and wanted to confine everything in one place so don't judge my copy and pasting aha!


Holden is a sex maniac. Trust him: he says it himself. But… really? The boy’s a virgin, and he can’t even bring himself to have sex with a prostitute—someone who literally does it for money. We don’t know about you, but Holden’s questions and assertions about sex don’t sound like the work of a sex maniac. They sound a lot more like the naïve fumblings of someone who’s still innocent enough to believe anything Carl Luce tells him. For all that Holden seems so obsessed with protecting little kids, we think the real innocent in Catcher in the Rye just might be Holden himself.


You’d expect a seventeen-year-old boy to be a lot more interested in sex than death, but… not Holden. Can you blame him? His younger brother died of leukemia four years before we meet him. He witnesses a young boy’s suicide at prep school. And then there’s the whole little problem of World War II. It seems like one of Holden’s major issues in Catcher in the Rye is that people—phonies—go around pretending like major tragedies don’t happen every day: they cry at sad movies, but they don’t cry about the atomic bomb. No wonder he thinks his screenwriter brother D.B. is such a phony.


Holden loves kids, but not in a creepy way. Really. He just thinks they’re cute little bundles of hilarious innocence: genuine, caring, and naturally kindhearted. In contrast, adults are “phony,” self-centered, and generally “*******s.” So, what’s he? Is teenaged Holden a phony *******, or a kindhearted kid? And is “adolescence” just another word for “learning to be fake”? Catcher in the Rye doesn’t give us a clear answer—after all, it’s all told from Holden’s perspective—but it doesn’t look good.


If we had a dollar for every time our parents told us to just wait until we got to college, and then we’d find all kind of people to be friends with, we’d … have a few dollars. Our point is that, in Catcher in the Rye, Holden feels isolated partly because he lives in such a confined circle. All his schoolmates are rich, privileged kids with narrow worldviews—but he’s also too rich and privileged to connect with anyone who isn’t a rich, privileged kid. (College probably isn’t going to help much, because it’s just going to be full…


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