Theme Of Sexuality In Catcher In The Rye

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Holden’s Sexuality: A Glimpse into the Confusing and Frightening Adult World

Holden’s sexuality is defined by countless numbers of negative sexual experiences. Besides his relationship with Jane, with whom he feels more a sisterly connection rather than a sexual one, every single one of Holden’s sexual experiences is filled with an air of fear and negativity. From his time spent with the prostitute to his experience with Mr. Antolini, Holden never feels truly comfortable with his sexuality. He feels that anything beyond some heavy kissing is perverted, which shows how Holden views adult sexuality through a suspicious lens. He wants to have sex and certainly feels sexual attraction, but he does not want to see himself conforming to standards
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Even though he has the means and opportunity to lose his “virginity”, something that he is clearly looking forward to, he is emotionally just not ready. In a sense, Holden would like to view sex in a non-emotional way, but he just is not able to. He says about his rendezvous with Sunny, “The trouble was, I just didn’t want to do it. I felt more depressed than sexy, if you want to know the truth. She was depressing. Her green dress hanging in the closet and all” (13.125). He also mentions how young she is, and he has quite a lot of trouble grasping with the fact that someone around his age could be a prostitute, something so adult and forbidden. Holden’s perceived problem is that he always seems to pity the girls with whom he tries to have sex, and, in a way, he abstains from sex because he does not want to “corrupt” them. For example, speaking of his own experiences, he says, “Girls aren’t too much help, either, when you start trying not to get too crumby, when you start trying not to spoil anything really good” (9.81). This perception that doing “crumby” or perverted acts with a girl, even a prostitute, “spoils” the girl most certainly originates from his idea of sex being an adult act, as well as because of how he sees himself as a sort of protector of those who are entering the unforgiving world of …show more content…
While he and Jane never make out or have sex, they hold hands constantly when they are together and Holden does kiss her, but just not on the lips. Something that Holden as well as many other people struggle with is being able to distinguish between love and sex. Love and sex do not have to go together, and Holden has trouble coming to terms with the idea that he did love Jane, even though the two never had sex. The fact is that one can be in a romantic, loving relationship with someone and not have sex, while the opposite is also true. Furthermore, the two are unified because of their shared experiences dealing with sexual abuse, which is made evident when Holden says, “[Her stepfather would] run around the goddamn house, naked. With Jane around and all” (4.42). Their relationship is so strong in fact that the two are able to confide in each other’s struggles with this without explicitly saying anything. They are able to show affection and compassion with simple hand-holding and listening to each other, thereby showing how Holden’s greatest desire in life is for someone to care and listen to him, and in Jane, as well as Phoebe, he is able to fulfill that