Theme Of Sex In Catcher In The Rye

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The essential element of creating a timeless novel is ensuring that it continues to remain relevant as time progresses. The Catcher in the Rye, written by J.D. Salinger, establishes the mentality of a teenager, Holden Caulfield, living in 1950’s. Although there are many variations in society presently, many of Holden’s thoughts and affairs are similar to those seen in the 21st century. Holden deals with relentless insecurities and a struggle with his identity. Also, Holden is immensely curious and frightened by the idea of sex. The Catcher in the Rye deals with several topics that are similar to those faced by teenagers in the 21st century, including persistent insecurities and the revelation of sex. Insecurities are a struggle that the majority…show more content…
The concept of sex is commonly introduced during the teenage years, and it can be comprehended as frightening, which is a similarity between the novel and society today. Throughout the novel, it is falsely perceived that Holden has had sexual experience due to his familiar tone with the topic. “Last year I made a rule that I was going to quit horsing around with girls that, deep down, gave me a pain in the ass. I broke it, though, the same week I made it--the same night, as a matter of fact. I spent the whole night necking with a terrible phony named Anne Louise Sherman” Salinger (59). It’s not until further into the novel that we learn Holden has little personal experience with the topic. “I was starting to feel pretty sexy and all, but I was a little nervous anyway. If you want to know the truth, I'm a virgin. I really am. I've had quite a few opportunities to lose my virginity and all, but I've never got around to it yet” (Salinger 72). I believe that Holden speaks as if he’s experienced with sex because of a social standard of the time, which is still common today. An understanding of sex is perceived as a sign of maturity. Holden identifies sex in a way that is uncommon during the 1950’s, but at the present time is considered standard. Holden has a respect for women that in the novel he claims, many at the time did not. “The thing is, most of the time when…show more content…
For instance, Holden has more independence than an average sixteen year old in the 21st century. When Holden was expelled from Pencey, to avoid returning home, he spends days exploring the city. Holden stays at a hotel alone which is very unlikely for a sixteen year old during this time. “So what I decided to do, I decided I'd take a room in a hotel in New York--some very inexpensive hotel and all--and just take it easy till Wednesday” (Salinger 38). It is rare for someone under the age of eighteen to rent a hotel room. Today, to stay at many hotels you need to be twenty-one or older in order to rent a room. Another difference between the novel and the 21st century is how Holden is constantly smoking. “I have no wind, if you want to know the truth. I'm quite a heavy smoker, for one thing--that is, I used to be” (Salinger 5). While it is possible for teenagers to be smokers in current times, it is not as common. Today, vaping is more common, which was not prominent during the time period in the novel. Lastly, throughout The Catcher in the Rye, Holden is served alcohol, which is uncommon for a sixteen year old in the 21st century. “Boy, I sat at that goddam bar till around one o'clock or so, getting drunk as a bastard. I could hardly see straight. The one thing I did, though, I was careful as hell not to get boisterous or anything. I didn't want anybody to notice me or
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