“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.

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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.


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