So the other night I was hanging out with my boyfriend when his younger sister said something about her English teacher telling them that Holden Caulfield is gay, and that had honestly never crossed my mind and I've read that book close to a dozen times. 

Read Billy Budd once though, and that's all it takes for that one. 


Thoughts on this? Arguments for? Arguments against?

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I'm pretty sure Harding was gay.

Dale Harding: The unofficial leader of the patients before McMurphy arrives, he is an intelligent, good-looking man who's ashamed of his repressed homosexuality. Harding's beautiful yet malcontent wife is a source of shame for him; he cannot please her, so she constantly emasculates him. From Wikipedia.

I'm going to say it's bullshit, the character would have been in the closet, and as far as I could tell there was nothing that should lead me to suspect that he was. My guess is she just has a low opinion of men and decided that because he didn't want to have sex with a whore he must be gay. That or she just decides that every character in the books she reads is gay. I could have missed something though and If he is gay then that would actually change the book quite a bit.

My thought?  It doesn't matter.

If it affects the story it matters. Not necessarily on a huge level, but it's worth talking about.


It would make his interactions with women that much more desperate, confused, awkward, and weird. Not to mention it would make the character that much more sympathetic. I'd say thats a big enough difference in the story to make it a subject worth discussing. 

It matters a teeny bit. It would add a new layer to the book. Holden is struggling with his identity throughout the story, and if he was gay and in the closet he would just also be struggling with his sexual identity.

And her teacher told her that Holden was gay, by the way. She agrees though.

I'm rereading it and I still don't think Holden is gay. The only real argument is that Holden couldn't have sex, not even with a prostitute, but my book club teacher from high school said that she thinks Holden is still a virgin because he's immature and scared of sex, which also contributes to his weirdness/awkwardness about the whole issue.

So while Holden could be interpreted as gay, I guess I personally don't believe that was Salinger's intent. 

Well you could always take the postmodernist view and stop looking for a deeper meaning and just take it at face value.

I personally don't think Holden is gay.  I think he has unresolved feelings about his brothers death, and may have latent-homosexual feelings. 


I do sort of see how her teacher would get as much from the text.  Holden seems very undecided about women and sex with them - ie; Sonny the Hooker.  But it is shown through his nostaligia over Jane (Jean?  I can't remember, I don't have the book with me) that he is straight.  His reaction towards women is more so his lack of ability to grow up and accept the loss of innocence.  Sex is innocence gone, in his mind. 


Remember, "teenager" was an unused term and Holden was expected to go from child to adult smoothly and without a problem; but also without any growth period.  He never dealt with his brother's death and to him, losing his innocence is stepping into such a world that his brother never got to, that his brother should have been a part of.


That how I take it anyway :D xox


I am only half way through the book so perhaps there is something I haven't gotten to yet, but it seems to me Holden is not gay. He is socially awkward, some people are. Just because he has poor social skills with women doesn't mean he's gay. Holden doesn't have problems with just women either, he has issues getting along with the men in his life as well. He doesn't have many friends, and he doesn't know how to appropriately respond to situations.

It never occurred to me that he could be gay, but the initial idea didn't sound far-fetched. But the more I look into his interactions with his peers, and adults, and children, the more clear it becomes that he is just shy and awkward. 

I could be wrong, wouldn't be the first time, certainly won't be the last. That's just my opinion. 

Honestly, I do think Holden is gay. I read the book in my English class and I've had this question in my head sence chapter three where he talks about Stradlader. Holden watches him dress and undress. Holden even describes Stadlader's muscles and body in a way someone who is interested would.
In the chapter 24 Holden said that guys always get really pervy around him. In the chapter with Sonny, when she is undressing, Holden says that it was unsexy and depressing. 
So yeah, I think Holden is gay.

I dont think he's gay...he could be, but the author's intention wasnt to say something about homeosexuality. And he does show interest in girls, but his own reluctance to fully grow up and participate in life keep him from doing anything with them. I had to write an essay on this...:)


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