Examples Of Masculinity In Catcher In The Rye

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Masculinity. It can be argued that no one word has undergone such a dramatic shift during the past century, as masculinity. In many ways J.D. Salinger’s groundbreaking novel, “The Catcher in the Rye”, and its main protagonist, Holden Caulfield, were both ahead of their time as they realized masculinity could not have a uniform definition. The reader is led on a journey by Holden, from fancy prep schools to the tough streets of New York City, all in the search for one thing: the meaning of masculinity. Holden’s search for identity culminates in his failure to conform to societal standards of masculinity, allowing Salinger to effectively question the need for such strict standards which seemingly only inhibit personal growth.
Holden’s failure to embrace the masculine stereotype is epitomized in his idealized and naive views on romance and sexulaity. When Holden enters the upscale Edmont Hotel and sees a young couple on a date, he remarks, “I think if you don't really like a girl, you shouldn't horse around with her at all …. It's really too bad that so much crumby stuff is a lot of fun sometimes” (Salinger 70). Holden’s belief that a man should not engage in a casual relationship with a woman unless he truly loves her, stands in stark contrast to masculine standards which encourage and congratulate men’s sexual exploits. Holden’s asexual beliefs
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In an age where seemingly everyone is accepted, Holden’s struggles to embody masculinity stand in sharp contrast to today’s masculinity that remains fluid and welcomes everyone. In many ways Holden and Salinger’s antiquated views on masculinity only served as catalysts for self-harm as they both struggled to accept themselves or ask for help. Ultimately, they both failed to realized masculinity is not derived from popular culture, but from
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