In The Catcher in the Rye, why does Holden like Mercutio (from Romeo and Juliet) so much? What does this reveal about Holden? What other character in the novel is somewhat like Mercutio?

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Another reason Holden may admire Mercutio so much is because Mercutio exemplifies everything Holden longs to be (but is not).

In Romeo and Juliet , Mercutio is courageous, unpredictable, outspoken, and supremely confident. He's the kind of man Holden wishes to be. When Romeo becomes depressed about being rejected by...

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Another reason Holden may admire Mercutio so much is because Mercutio exemplifies everything Holden longs to be (but is not).

In Romeo and Juliet, Mercutio is courageous, unpredictable, outspoken, and supremely confident. He's the kind of man Holden wishes to be. When Romeo becomes depressed about being rejected by Rosaline, Mercutio advises him to have more sex. Mercutio may be matter-of-fact about love (he can take it or leave it), but he's sexually experienced, something Holden is not. In The Catcher In The Rye, Holden gets cold feet about bedding Sunny, the prostitute. He behaves awkwardly and is downright frightened about the prospect of embarrassing himself. He wishes he was a "rake" (like Monsieur Blanchard), but he fails miserably when he's faced with the need to take action.

Mercutio is "smart" and "entertaining." He's both adept at love-making as well as sword-fighting. Above all, Mercutio knows how to take the battle to the enemy when the occasion demands it. It is Mercutio who takes up Romeo's challenge to fight Tybalt. Because of his loyalty and courage, Mercutio dies at Tybalt's hands. Holden implies that Romeo's cowardice is responsible for Mercutio's death, and he believes that Mercutio is a more worthy character than either Romeo or Juliet.

Holden's thoughts about Mercutio show that he values a particular set of masculine virtues, the kind that Mercutio possesses in abundance. Mercutio represents Holden's idea of the perfect man, someone who's suave, courageous, and confident. In the book, Stradlater is the closest thing to Mercutio. Like Mercutio, Stradlater is obsessed with sex, and he's certainly what one would consider a "rake." He's good with the ladies, and he's a charmer. However, he's also mercurial (like Mercutio).

When Holden asks Stradlater about his date with Jane Gallagher, Stradlater becomes visibly irritated. He refuses to provide Holden with any details about the date. Holden resorts to antagonizing his friend, and this leads Stradlater to retaliate physically. Holden fights back but finds himself powerless against his friend's dexterity. Holden muses that he's only been in two fights in his life, and he lost both of them. He comforts himself that, at the very least, the presence of blood on his person makes him look "tough."

So, even though Stradlater isn't a very good friend, Holden finds himself engaged in a dysfunctional  relationship with him. Holden detests Stradlater's selfishness, but he's fascinated with his friend's sexual confidence and physical prowess. This is also the reason that Holden likes Mercutio so much; both Mercutio and Stradlater are very similar in temperament and character.

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Holden likes Mercutio from Romeo and Juliet, because Holden most likely identifies with Mercutio more than any other character from the play.  Holden feels that he is often mistreated and the recipient of actions that were no fault of his own to begin with.  Holden feels that is what happened to Mercutio as well too.  It's not Mercutio's fault that he was killed.  He was simply trying to protect the honor of his family.  He was trying to make sure that Romeo stayed away from Juliet.  No Romeo means Mercutio lives.  No Romeo means Juliet lives too.  Holden thinks Mercutio is unfairly labeled a "bad guy" in the play.  Holden knows that feeling, which is why he's so angst filled against phonies.  

Lastly, Mercutio is a very funny and witty character.  On top of that, his jokes are sexual in nature.  In the novel, it is clear through Holden's first person narration that sex is on his mind a lot.  It is also clear that Holden thinks he is quite funny. 

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