At one point in The Catcher in the Rye, Mr. Spencer says to Holden, "Life is a game, boy. Life is a game that one plays according to the rules" (8). What do you think he means by that?

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One way to interpret Mr. Spencer's advice is through the theory of social contract, a philosophical/theoretical agreement that exists, unspoken, in a civilized society. The core idea is that in order to live in a peaceful, organized, and safe community, individuals are required to give up certain rights and pick up some duties—or, like Mr. Spencer says, to "play the game." It is a state all people live in, although adults are understandably more aware of it and more involved. Holden, clinging stubbornly to adolescence, does not want to be a part of it.

The social contract is necessary and beneficial, however. Featuring heavily in the works of great philosophers like Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau, the opposite of the contract is anarchy. While that may appeal to some people, history shows that sooner or later everyone is drawn to a more formal system. Holden thinks that people who play the game of life are "phony," but the truth is that what he really wants is to have all the benefits of the...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 971 words.)

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