J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye

J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye

J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the RyeSome very disquieting thoughts were put forward by the critics about the true inclinations that Holden Caulfield had for his younger sister Phoebe and vice versa. One of the bold suggestions that were put forward was that the feelings Holden had for his sister was of a sexual nature.

One could easily argue that statements or “hints” that were given earlier are nothing short of revolting, completely unfounded and far-fetched. It may even seem as though the evidence presented in support of these claims are nothing but a mere series of coincidences the critics make use of in order to support those claims.

On the other hand, it is possible that Phoebe does indeed kindle in Holden a unique, covert passion that he himself wasn’t even fully aware of. And though, the nature of the relationship they had was not actually sexual per se, as implied in the article, it is evident that they shared a particularly intimate bond, and that Phoebe is one of the few people in Holden’s life whom he truly cherishes and admires, as she, according to Holden, is exceptionally smart and mature for her young age of 10, and the only one that seems to “get him”. It is learnt early in the book that one of the other people towards whom Holden had similar feelings was his late younger brother, Allie.

So it can be safely said that Holden does have an exceptionally close relationship with his sister, since it is she who offers him wholehearted and innocent refuge from the rampant ruthlessness and “phoniness” of the society that, at times, mirrors his own persona and troubles him. With Phoebe and her unconditional love and frankness, he feels safe and finally manages to get a moment of peace and reflection that leads to a self-realization that there is no need to catch children before they fall to adulthood; i.e., off the cliff.

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