“The Catcher in the Rye” Question: 1. Is Holden an insane person in a sane world, or is he a sane person in an insane world? Answer: 1. If we take the book at face value, then it would definitely be ‘a sane person in an insane world’. Look at the people Holden comes across: prostitutes, pimps, pedophiles, self centered people etc. But this book is NOT about looking at what’s on the surface; it’s all about what’s underneath… Do we really trust Holden’s description of everything and everyone?
Every single person he meets can’t possibly be a phony and fake and superficial and annoying. Everyone is different. Everyone has good points and bad points. In reality, there ARE nice, friendly and kind people – it’s just Holden can not see it. The Nuns are important characters to look at when asking yourself this question. Holden thinks adulthood is full of corruption and phoniness and superficiality: everyone wants to be the best and look the best and because of this, they are very vain and false people. But the nuns are different.
Holden describes them as wearing unattractive iron-rimmed glasses and carrying very inexpensive suitcases. However shabby and unappealing their exterior looks, when he talks to them, they are very friendly and warm-hearted people inside. They represent the GOOD in people, whereas Holden always focuses on the bad. I believe this is Salinger showing us that Holden’s viewpoint is a little bit inaccurate and we shouldn’t just believe everything he says. Salinger is not saying the entire world is insane. Overall, I’d say Holden is an insane person.