The Catcher in the Rye Themes

This Study Guide consists of approximately 72 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Catcher in the Rye.
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Alienation and Loneliness

The main theme that runs through this book is alienation, whether the book is read as the funny/tragic account of a deeply troubled, rebellious, and defensive teenager or as a commentary on a smug and meaningless social milieu. Phoebe sums up Holden's sense of separateness from and anger at other people when she tells him he doesn't like anything. Holden's red hunting cap, which he dons when he is most insecure, is a continuing symbol throughout the book of his feeling that he is different, doesn't fit into his environment, and, what's more, doesn't want to fit in.

Guilt and Innocence

Holden is deceitful and manipulative in most of his dealings with others. And he knows this all too well and even boasts of his prowess as a liar. But throughout the book we glimpse another Holden, the one who feels sorry for the people...

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This section contains 435 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Catcher in the Rye Study Guide
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Novels for Students
The Catcher in the Rye from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.