Holden Caufield

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When authors title books they must consider the themes, symbols, and the essential plot of the novel. J.D. Salinger’s title, The Catcher in the Rye, stems from a quote in the book where Holden eludes to the fact that he wishes to protect children’s innocence. While this is quite an attention-grabbing title, the name From the Mixed Up Files of Holden Caulfield , would be better suited for the actual storyline. From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is a book about a detective who is always misinterpreting criminal offenses. She is perplexed by the world around her and similar to Holden she is “mixed up”. Therefore, this title would be more appropriate than J.D. Salinger’s because Holden is confused about sex, the meaning of the word “phony”, and the reality of coming into adulthood.

Holden said it best himself, “Sex is something I just don’t understand. I swear to God I don’t.”( p. 63) He is a romantic, however he is obviously sexually driven as well. He is indecisive about how to respond to these mixed feelings and when a girl asks him to stop making advances, he listens. That is a commendable trait of his yet he believes it is a great weakness. During his encounter with Sunny, the prostitute, he decides not to go through with having sex, most likely because Sunny is not important enough to him and he believes she is too young to be having sex for a living. Later, at the Wicker Bar with Carl Luce, Holden questions this fear of being intimate with a girl unless he really cares about her and even considers psychoanalysis. Unfortunately for Holden, Carl Luce, as mature and sophisticated he may seem, is still too immature to tell Holden his feelings are admirable. On top of sex, homosexuality is another one of Holden’s concerns. He is seemingly homophobic, calling gays “flits”, and over reacting about his former teacher, Mr. Antolini’s father like gesture of patting him on the head. Thus, he struggles with his sexual feelings throughout the book...
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