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What are Holden Caulfield's thoughts about god, religions, and religious hypocrisy?

Holden Caulfield is the main character in the book The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger.

2 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
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    Lolalove's answer is awesome and I'd run with that.

    I wanted to add that Holden is a very autobiographical character for Salinger who rejected Western religion and favors Eastern dogma found commonly in Buddhism or Hinduism. I'm not sure how he'd respond if asked for his religious preference. I doubt he's an atheist, considering his focus on Eastern meditation and a desire to live a pure, simple life. It just seems like the lifestyle of a spiritual person to me. This is more focused on in his work "Franny and Zooey".

    "Catcher" definitely focuses attention on the hypocrisy of Western religion, as Holden is out to spot hypocrisy in all aspects of society. I agree, the fact he mentions prayer, etc. despite claiming to be an atheist is symptomatic of your typical teenage wayward soul--looking for a place to fit in and something concrete to believe in. The jury's still out, so to speak, on Holden's true religious views as he explores his world.

    The attention paid to the nuns, to me, is done as a contrast to what has taken place a chapter earlier with Sunny the prostitute. Holden has just lost $10 to her in a rather regrettable way, and I don't think it's a coincidence that he donates $10 to the nuns as a way of canceling that out of his conscience.

    His musings about the nuns and their attempt to live a pure life in a world full of corruption are humorous, but quite important. It is his mission after all, to preserve some semblance of innocence in the face of that corruption. The nuns are fascinating in that they are the only adults in the novel who are still pure, in a way. Although it can be argued that Holden equates cluelessness with its own form of corruption. He is left to wonder if the nuns are truly on the right track in this world--just as Salinger has his doubts.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Holden himself is kind of full of religious hypocrisy. It is more of a confusion about his feelings but none the less, most of the references to religion that he makes he later contradicts.

    He claims that he is an atheist. However he also mentions that he sometimes prays (but cannot pray just whenever he feels like it) and thinks that his brother, Allie is in Heaven.

    He dislikes ministers and religious leaders intensely. However he shows respect and kindness to the two nuns that he meets. And they are some of the only people that he encounters in Manhattan whose company that he seems to enjoy (he also seems to worry about what they think when they read or have to teach about a book with sexual content, i always thought that that was sweet)

    He gets upset when he hears the men moving a Christmas tree calling it a "sonovabitch".

    He seems very down on Catholics (always trying to find out if he's Catholic, Ackley is Catholic, etc) which is actually more than likely the result of his father having left The Church (in order to marry Holden's mother). He more than likely grew up hearing bad things about Catholics in his home. But, again, he respects the two nuns.

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