The Catcher in the Rye
The Catcher in the Rye
by J. D. Salinger
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The Catcher in the Rye Theme of Sexuality and Sexual Identity

We can’t tell if Holden would be the kid in our class sneaking in his dad’s Playboy (do dads even subscribe to Playboy anymore?) or the one telling his teacher that someone was looking at a dirty magazine. (Actually, knowing Holden, he’d probably be telling on himself.) In either case, sexuality is something secretive and shameful to Holden. To him, it seems there’s no such thing as a healthy sex drive: any sex drive at all automatically means you’re a pervert. Tell us again why they keep banning Catcher in the Rye?

Questions About Sexuality and Sexual Identity

  1. Why does Holden sabotage himself every time he has the opportunity to have sex?
  2. What is Holden's attitude toward women as sexual beings? Toward men?
  3. What does Holden consider "perverty" behavior? Is this a reasonable definition?
  4. Is Holden in love with Jane Gallagher? Does he even want to have sex with her? Is Holden able to distinguish between love and lust?

Chew on This

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

Although Holden is obsessed with sex, he wants to preserve innocence more than he wants to gain carnal knowledge.

Holden's view of any sexual act as "crumby" and degrading is the result of his experiences with sexual abuse.

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Previous Page: Isolation

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