Catcher In The Rye
In the novel, Catcher in the Rye, the main character, Holden, has very definite
views on sexuality, aggression, and death. He is ambivalent towards sex,
loathsome of aggression, and fearsome of death. It's this triangle of sin that
demonstrates the conflict occurring within Holden's inner monologue. In the
novel, Generation X, the main character, Andy, is grappling with many of the
same problems that Holden faced forty years earlier. Even though the more modern
society is different than forty years ago, the same general issues still haunt

Andy today, with many parallels to Holden's coming-of-age issues. With such a
dead-end vision of the trap of adulthood and marriage, it isn't very surprising
that Holden is scared of being initiated into the most involving form of
relationship--sex. In a society where human relationships are affected by
marketplace values, like status and appearance, which commodify people, rather
than accepting them. Holden is seeking a deeper, more real relationship with
someone, probably anyone, who understands him, and will accept him. Holden
doesn't like to see people hurting. He explains when he says that he would like
to be "a catcher in the rye", someone who protects children from the
pitfalls of hypocrisy and lies, that Holden seems to think infect the adult
world. As a result, Holden is very careful not to use other characters as a
means for his own ends. In many ways he is unable to deflect the unexpressed
pressures that every teen male feels, to have sex. He is offered the
"teenage dream" of sex in a non-responsible situation when Maurice,
the elevator operator in his hotel offers to set him up with a hooker. Holden
jumps at the chance, but when confronted with the reality of the situation feels
horrible, and ends up not touching the hooker. Pure sex, like many other
societal myths, is a romantic place that Holden wants to believe exists, but
understands through his cynicism, that is never has, or ever will exist. But his
mistrust goes deeper. For Holden, it seemed like sex would somehow integrate him
into the world at large, which he despises. Holden does not want to accept any
change in his life. He sees sex as a way that society is using to lure him into
being like the people that he hates. At Pencey, his boarding school, he equates
sex with perversion. He refers to his studly roommate, Stradlater as a
"very sexy bastard" because of his interest in all things related to
sex. And then when Holden is obsessing over the idea of Stradlater, and his
friend Jane having sex, he tries to think of her as innocent and naive, when he
says "when we played checkers, she always kept her kings in the back
row." Since he cares about Jane, he can't understand why she would want to
involve herself with a guy like Stradlater in the first place. Thoughts about
sex, seem to lead Holden into thoughts about death. After the fight with

Stradlater over Jane, Ackley, the novel's most hated character, asks why they
fought and Holden tells the readers that "I didn't answer him...I almost
wished I was dead." And later on, when he is alone in his hotel room ,
after the hooker leaver he begins to think about his younger brother's death. To

Holden he also sees sex as the same as aggression. As in his reaction to his
fight with Stradlater, he treats aggression in the same way as he does sex.

After losing the fight he says, "I'd only been in about two fights in my
life, and I lost both of them. I'm not too tough. I'm a pacifist, if you want to
know the truth." Although his swing at Stradlater, seem to go against his
non-aggressive personality, it is the name of Jane, someone who Holden considers
as the model of perfection and innocence. This all comes back to the comment
about Jane keeping her kings in the back row. This is interesting because it
shows her unwillingness to be aggressive or sexual, which are two of Holden's
values, despite the fact she is now involved with Stradlater, who represents (at
least to Holden) sex and aggression. The connection between sex, death, and
aggression all come together near the end of the novel when Holden visits his
younger sister phoebe, at her elementary school. Holden sees a sign that someone
has put up that says, "Fuck You." This phrase is so important to the
novel because it represents, a very aggressive insult, and it is also a work
that means having sex.