An Analysis of The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

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Robert Kraft
11/10/10
The novel, The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger is about a teenage boy named Holden Caulfield who struggles to find his identity. Holden wants to be an adult but he also subconsciously wants to stay young and maintain his innocence. Holden shows this when he hires a prostitute but doesn’t have sex with her. Holden’s negative encounter with the prostitute shows that although he tries to act like a tough adult he is still a kid at heart. One instance when the reader realizes Holden is still a kid is when he admits that he is still a virgin. Holden then goes on to make excuses for why he hasn’t lost his virginity. Holden states that, “Something always happens” (92). Holden continues to deceive himself without accepting that he really doesn’t want to lose his virginity. Another instance is when the prostitute removes her dress in front of Holden. When describing the situation to the reader Holden narrates, “It was really quite embarrassing. It really was” (95). Instead of being aroused like most adults would Holden becomes embarrassed like a child would. Yet another moment we see Holden’s childlike personality is when the prostitute sits on Holden’s lap wearing nothing but a pink slip. Holden lies telling her that he just had an operation and wasn’t in the mood for sex. Holden himself narrates that, “She made me so nervous, I just kept on lying my head off” (97). Unconsciously Holden realizes that he wishes to maintain his innocence. He just has not consciously accepted this as a reality.
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