The Catcher in the Rye

Hooking Up With Holden: Exploring Sexuality in The Catcher in the Rye College

“Sex is something I just don't understand. I swear to God I don't,” (Salinger, 63). It might take Holden Caulfield nine chapters to admit to this, but his sexual confusion is present from the first pages of J.D. Salinger’s famous novel The Catcher in The Rye. Stemming from the dichotomy of sexual openness in America, underlined by an immense sensitivity, and sprinkled with teenage confusion, Holden’s relationship with his sexuality is a turbulent one. Holden experiences a constant string of emotions concerning sexuality, spanning from excitement to guilt. All of these emotions are difficult, and are a pressing internal struggle for Holden. Holden Caulfield’s disconnection from his sexuality is a notable contributor to his social difficulties.Certainly the broadest cause of sexual issues in The Catcher in The Rye is Holden’s relationship to societal sexual expectations. America during this time features contrasting beliefs surrounding sex. For the older generation, which includes Holden’s distant parents, “most sex in America had been forced into the closet. Even masturbation was despised and thought to be the source of many physical and psychological ills. The only officially endorsed sexual behavior was monogamous heterosexual...

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