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Jesus of Nazareth, also given the title Jesus Christ (Messiah), is part of the Divine Trinity, the persona which is worshiped by Christians. According to Islam, Jesus is not the son of God, but rather one of his prophets. However, the Jesus referred to in Catcher in the Rye can be assumed to be from the Christian faith, which the narrator, Holden Caulfield, presumably was mainly exposed to. Closely related to Jesus are his twelve disciples, or apostles, who were chosen by him to learn and evangelize his teachings. Jesus's name is also often used as a curse in the novel, usually within Holden's narration.

Catcher in the Rye


"Old Ossenburger", as Holden calls him in chapter 3, was an alumnus of Pencey Prep who donated a large sum of money to his alma mater, and the namesake of Holden's dorm wing. He gave a speech to the campus, and Holden's takeaway (apart from the flatulence of Edgar Marsalla) was the religious aspect. He said that Ossenburger's stated relationship with Jesus "killed him", i.e. he found it hilarious. Holden's sarcastic analysis of religion in this section would lead one to believe Holden dislikes the idea of religion in general. Instead, however, he may be utilizing it to label Ossenburger a "phony", seeing it not as a flaw because of its religious intent but rather because of how he thinks Ossenburger practices.

The Disciples

The biggest insight Holden allows into how he regards religion comes in chapter 14, just after he had first parted ways with the prostitute "Sunny". The fact that his discussion of the Bible (and, at first, even an urge to pray) follows a meet-up with a prostitute is deliberate. When he made his deal with the pimp in the elevator, Holden did so out of sexual curiosity. This curiosity, again brought up in chapter 19 with his conversations with Carl Luce, comes from Holden's (to him) bothersome late adolescence. Although he did nothing more serious that talk with Sunny, having a prostitute in his room was a tenant of adulthood in his eyes, and it deeply upset him. This is why, immediately afterwards, he bounces backwards sharply: first, he starts talking to Allie, who is his connection to childhood innocence that Holden feels slipping away; second, he wants to pray, which for him represents an odd desire for comfort.

The next paragraph displays Holden's unique views on the Bible, Jesus, and his Disciples. He ranks the Disciples with the rest of the phonies in his life, and detests them for letting down Jesus, whom they were supposed to have helped in Holden's view. Interestingly, Holden says that Jesus is his favorite person in the Bible and, aside from a few curses, never denounces him, as a phony or otherwise. As his conversations with Arthur Childs tell, he is fairly unorthodox in how he sees Jesus, especially in thinking that he wouldn't have sent Judas to Hell. This, again, relates to his views on innocence being the most important part of a person's character.


Holden also mentions, albeit briefly, that another of his favorite characters is "that lunatic and all, that lived in the tombs and kept cutting himself with stones." Holden is referencing a man who, according to Mark 5:1-20, was named "Legion", a being created from a man possessed by many demons. Holden feels the strongest connection to a lunatic perhaps because he is a bit of one himself - after all, the narration is supposedly written from a "recovery home", which may be innuendo for a mental facility or similar.

Incomplete List of Sources

Salinger, Jerome D. The Catcher in the Rye. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 1951. Print.

Wikipedia contributors. "Jesus." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 8 Jan. 2015. Web. 9 Jan. 2015.