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What is Holden's attitude toward religion in The Catcher in the Rye?

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suemo | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 4, 2007 at 10:40 PM via web

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What is Holden's attitude toward religion in The Catcher in the Rye?

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mlsldy3 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted February 23, 2015 at 4:10 PM (Answer #3)

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Holden lives constantly in the past. He seems to think that things were easier in the past, and he just can't face the present or the future. In chapter 14, Holden is depressed again. He is thinking of his younger brother, Allie, who had died of leukemia years ago. He admits to talking to Allie now and idolizes his lost brother. He says he sees himself as an atheist, but admits to liking Jesus. He says he doesn't like the other people in the bible, but he likes Jesus. He talks about how the world is not pure anymore, and this goes to show that he has form of knowledge of bible teaching.

Throughout the entire novel, we see Holden spiral out of reality. He struggles to stay focused on the present. He flunks out of school. He just kind of wonders through life aimlessly. He lives constantly in the past. He can't face the future. He doesn't have the ability to face he responsibilities. Holden questions everything. He questions people and their actions. He doesn't trust anyone. He questions religion. He admits to liking Jesus, but also claims to be an atheist. Nothing in Holden's life is making any sense to him. I think he is angry at God for the death of Allie. It seems his life just kind of stopped when his brother died. 

It is clear that Holden is struggling with some kind of mental disorder. He just wanders throughout life at the moment. He knows deep down, that something is wrong with him, but he is unwilling to get any help. The sadness that Holden faces, is a true disorder, and only with the help of other people can he truly embrace his future with hope.

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allyson | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

Posted October 4, 2007 at 10:53 PM (Answer #1)

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Holden talks about his views toward religion in Chapter 14. He says that he feels like praying, but cannot because he can never pray when he feels like it. He also claims that he is "sort of an atheist," but as he continues, it does not seem that he really is an atheist. He has knowledge of the Bible, believes in Jesus, and even admires him, despite what Holden views as flawed disciples. Holden even seems to identify with Jesus, as someone who would "puke" if he saw the phoniness of people, like those wearing costumes and singing at Radio City.

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bear70 | College Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 5, 2007 at 4:50 PM (Answer #2)

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Perhaps he felt guilty of having religion. Probably if  he were to have a religion, he has to follow it and if he doesn't, he felt that he would be condemned and regard as a sinner. So might as well he be an atheist.

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