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The Catcher in the Rye

by J. D. Salinger

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In The Catcher in the Rye, how does Holden feel about necking with girls he doesn't care for?

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In chapter 9 Holden witnesses from his window the unusual bedroom behaviour of some of the other residents at his hotel. This is no doubt sordid and Holden is worried that sex in general is sordid. Holden is an idealist and wants sex to have some spiritual dimension. He feels uneasy about 'necking with girls whom he does not really care about' because it lacks this spiritual dimension; after witnessing the people at the hotel, he says 'Last year I made a rule that I was going to quit horsing around with girls that, deep down , gave me a pain in the ass. I broke it, though, the same week I made it - the same night, as a matter of fact'. The comment is characteristically humorous but there is a serious point: Holden is unable to live up to his own idealism. He needs to be a bit more forgiving of his own, and others' weaknesses.

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