Sexism And Homophobia In Catcher In The Rye

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The infamous book The Catcher in the Rye, written by J.D Salinger in 1951. During the book, Holden expresses his feelings between the equality of men and women. Explaining how men are superior to men. Seeing them just for their curves and good looks, more-so as an object rather than a person. Not having really any strong relationships with women for the exception of his little sister. So is the novel The Catcher in the Rye sexist and homophobic? Or is it just an example on how the world was 70 years ago?

The era that the book was written in, there was still a huge gap between what women and what their “abilities” were. J.D Salinger was born in 1919. The rights for women were remarkably different than rights of men. Many women were not able to have certain professions, wear the clothes they wanted, and not have their own name printed onto their own passport. So the way that Salinger was raised, and most likely a lot of other people born in that period of time believe that their mom, grandma or sister should “stay in the kitchen” as derogatory as that is, it was okay to say that back then. Even when the book was written 32 years later there were still quite a bit of the same ideologies. As you will notice when reading the book.

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“I was half in love with her by the time we sat down. That’s the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty, even if they’re not much to look at, or even if they’re sort of stupid, you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are. Girls. Jesus Christ. They can drive you crazy. They really can.” – Holden Caulfield

In this quote from the book Holden inserts his feelings about women and what they do to a man.

I do not think that sexism is demonstrated intentionally in the novel.

Personally I did not notice a lot of racism in the book. But if others think differently, I do not think that Salinger purposely made the book to be racist. If Salinger were to add a fair bit of racist comments and remarks in his book I feel like that would take away from the story.

Using some controversial ideas or language can give the book some more intensity for the readers. Helping the reader feel the tension through the words. It gives the readers something to think about after reading.

Overall I think that the novel The Catcher in the Rye doesn’t promote an excessive amount sexist or homohobic ideas. I think that people who chose to pick apart the novel and call it out for being homophobic and or sexist should understand that it could have simply been a way to help give the characters some depth and background on their personality.  


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