convo top image

What are the themes of The Catcher in the Rye?

J. D. Salinger's novel The Catcher in the Rye is a well-known coming of age story. It has also caused controversy because of its sexual content and use of profanity. What are the themes of The Catcher in the Rye, and how does the main character, Holden Caulfield, react to the world around him?

The Catcher in the Rye is about mental illness

The main character, Holden Caulfield, suffers from mental health issues.

Holden Caulfield is depressed

Holden Caulfield displays multiple symptoms of depression.

"Where do the ducks go when the pond freezes over?"

Holden Caulfield frequently asks this question to avoid his problems.

The Catcher in the Rye is about death

An overarching theme of The Catcher in the Rye is death, both in terms of Holden's mourning over his brother's death and his own suicidal thoughts.

Allie Caulfield

Holden Caulfield is still grieving over the death of his younger brother, Allie.

Holden Caulfield's suicidal thoughts

Holden displays intense emotion and turbulent behavior throughout the novel, suggesting he is deeply discontented and depressed. As a result, he routinely says that he must commit suicide and often fantasizes about it.

The Catcher in the Rye is about innocence and childhood

Throughout the book, Holden tries to protect the innocence of those around him.

Phoebe Caulfield

Holden Caulfield tries to protect the innocence of his younger sister, Phoebe.

Jane Gallagher

Holden Caulfield is worried about the innocence of his childhood friend, Jane Gallagher.

The Catcher in the Rye is about sexuality

Holden Caulfield has a complex relationship to his sexuality.

Holden Caulfield's sexuality is a notable theme in The Catcher in the Rye

Throughout the Catcher in the Rye Holden Caulfield is struggling with his sexuality and has trouble establishing physical relationships. He is unable to clearly differentiate between the emotional responses related to being intimate and having sex.

Holden Caulfield hires a prostitute

In chapter 13, Holden accepts an offer from an elevator operator to have a prostitute sent to his hotel room. Before she arrives, Holden contemplates his history of failed sexual experiences. When he is unable to have sex, he gets angry and frustrated and blames Sunny for making him depressed.

Mr. Antolini

Holden Caulfield has a questionable encounter with his former teacher, Mr. Antolini.

The Catcher in the Rye is about morality

Holden is constantly concerned with the morality of those around him.

Everyone is a phony

Holden Caulfield is disgusted with the fakeness of society.

Vote

Not sure yet? Read more ↑

Discuss

This page was last edited on Monday, 30 Mar 2020 at 10:02 UTC