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The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye


by J. D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye Theme of Religion

The Catcher in the Rye treats religion much the same way as it does education. There may be an intrinsic value to it, but who can tell? It's been ruined by institutions and the phony people who run them. To Holden, religion is just one more way of creating social barriers and encouraging people to be phony. But religious people themselves? Maybe not so bad. The two nuns are almost the only people Holden doesn’t end up calling phony.

Questions About Religion

  1. What is it that Holden dislikes about religion? Is it spirituality itself, the institution, or the people running it?
  2. Does religion affect the way Holden thinks about his dead brother, Allie? Does spirituality?
  3. Why is it that Holden sees Sunny as a real person, not simply a prostitute, but he can't get past the fact that the nuns are nuns?
  4. Holden claims that he’s an atheist—in fact, that all of his siblings are. Is he, really? Does he have any structure of belief?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Holden Caulfield actually shows a lot of respect for the religious people he runs into.

Holden's desire to protect innocence suggests an acute awareness of guilt; his musings about Jesus and forgiveness suggest that, on some level, he really feels like he needs redemption.

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