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“The Catcher in the Rye”: Let’s Talk About Sex

"Catcher in the Rye" essayWhen you proceed to the Chapter 9 of “The Catcher in the Rye”, you see Holden, who looks out of the window of his hotel and gazes at the rooms of the others, where his eyes are hooked by a couple of strangers, who squirt water into each other’s mouths and a “distinguished-looking” man in women’s outfit.

 

Holden’s Mind-Blowing Questions

What questions pop up in Holden’s head? The first one is why everyone he sees does not close the shades? And the following question that worries the reader – does the protagonist finds sex inherently degrading?

It’s hard to provide an answer for the first question, but one can ponder over the question number 2. And the answer, in my personal opinion, is yes. When your heart beats faster when you’re seeing the girl you like, Holden believes, you act and think just like a “crumby stuff”.

But the reader cannot be 100% sure about that. Moreover, at some point it seems that Holden cannot actually have sex with a young lady at all for the reason that it may turn the girl into an object. In the other words, Holden should either have sexual relationship with women he’s not in love with, or never have it at all.

One more problem that Holden is faced with in his everyday life is that when he’s hanging out with a young lady and she actually asks to stop, Holden really…stops. For some unknown reason, the boy cannot reach the sense of balance between treating a girl with respect and taking sexual control of this or that situation where his girlfriend really desires him to.

On the other hand, Holden has his own reasons to respect certain boundaries. The thing is that some time ago the boy has gone through a come-on at his teacher’s hands and perhaps Holden has experienced some “pervertion” for “about twenty times since he was a kid”. As for Jane, she either has or has not got physically abused by the stepfather (keep in mind that the main character makes use of “about twenty” very often in order to point out indeterminate (large) numbers).

Where does this ambiguity come from? Well, a third person could probably give us an answer on what is going on in Holden’s head. But, unfortunately, we don’t have it now. All that we have while reading the book is Holden, who is a little bit sex-crazed and confused teen, who openly says he “doesn’t understand” sex.

 

Can Holden Be Gay?

This is the last question that worries a lot of readers of different ages. What if that is an actual reason why he is so alienated? Perhaps. Holden really spends a lot of days pondering over the hot bod of Stradlater. Maybe at some point he sees homosexuality where it actually does not exist, as with Mr. Antolini or Carl Luce. To say more, Holden doesn’t feel comfortable when thinking about intimacy with a female. And maybe that’s something that even Holden is afraid to admit to himself?

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