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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.

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

Holden Caulfield frequently asks this question to avoid his problems. Explore

Holden Caulfield is depressed

Holden Caulfield displays multiple symptoms of depression. Explore

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. Explore

Holden Caulfield's suicidal thoughts

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

The Catcher in the Rye is about innocence and childhood

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

Jane Gallagher

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

Phoebe Caulfield

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

The Catcher in the Rye is about sexuality

Holden Caulfield has a complex relationship to his sexuality.

Holden Caulfield's sexuality

Holden Caulfield is struggling with his sexuality. Explore

Mr. Antolini

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

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 anrgy and frustrated and blames Sunny for making him depressed. Explore

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