What are some problems that Holden faces in The Catcher in the Rye?

Holden faces two major problems in The Catcher in the Rye, from which his other problems stem. First, he struggles with guilt over his younger brother Allie's death, and second, he struggles with the adolescent desire to save the world. These two problems collide in his wish to atone for Allie's death by becoming the catcher in the rye, the person who saves the innocent from disaster.

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Two major problems collide for Holden: the survivor's guilt he experiences over his brother Allie's death and the issues of adolescence. These two originating problems lead to other issues, such as his inability to succeed in prep school.

Adolescents often have an inflated idea of their role in the world as they struggle to adopt the mantle of adult responsibility. The burden Holden bears is his desire to protect and save all the innocent and vulnerable people of the world as a way to atone for his younger brother's death. This pattern plays out in the novel: Holden fights with Stradlater out of a misplaced desire to defend Jane; he won't sleep with the vulnerable teenage prostitute he hires; he gives the nuns he meets in the diner money because it bothers him that their breakfast is so meager; and he shows the boys at the Metropolitan Museum of Art the way to the mummies. When he goes to visit his little sister, Phoebe, he tells her he would like to be the catcher in the rye, the person...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 864 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on May 15, 2020