In JD Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield’s journey from innocence to maturity is heavily influenced by several of his relationships with women in the book. Disturbed and trapped within his conflicting mind, he struggles to understand various aspects of the realistic world around him, women, being one of them. His emotions for women vary between sexual attraction, familial bonding, and furthermore, friendly relations. Holden’s disoriented grasp on his feelings shows that despite his view of himself as a level headed adult, he lacks maturity and experience to make suitable decisions. Holden Caulfield is portrayed throughout the novel as a sexual character since he carries a series of relationships with several women. These women embody what Holden desperately wants but also fears – physical affection. Holden’s yearning for sex and lust is often misjudged. In reality, it is a result of his own confusion and mental instability that provokes these emotions. When Holden leaves his home feeling depressed, he catches a train at night and travels to the Edmont Hotel for a two night stay. Within a few hours Holden soon witnesses a couple in another room across from his, a middle aged man and woman who seemed to be squirting water from each other’s mouths at each other. Although Holden is amused at first, he expresses his true emotions by saying “…The trouble was, that kind of junk is sort of fascinating to watch, Darbha 2even if you don’t want it to be. For instance, that girl that was getting water squirted all over her face, she was pretty good-looking. I mean that’s my big trouble. In my mind, I’m probably the biggest sex maniac you ever saw. Sometimes I can think of very crumby stuff I wouldn’t mind doing if the opportunity came up.”(Salinger, 62). Additionally, he mentions “…Sex is something I really don’t understand too hot … 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.” (63). Holden then proves his vulnerability, as he calls an old flame, Faith Cavendish, to head for cocktails that same night, hoping to achieve something more than just drinks. When she turns him down, he is furious and immediately hangs up the phone. The sole fact that he chose to act upon this short term feeling of arousement, demonstrates how sex carries a negative influence on his sophistication. This behaviour is a sign Holden’s unreliable and untrustworthy attributes that are present throughout the novel. Holden’s relationship with another young woman named Sally Hayes, is a prominent example to how his sexuality with women has lead to several poor decisions. Sally Hayes was an extremely attractive girl whom Holden had dated, for a very long time. Holden often claims she is stupid although, Sally is in fact very well read. Therefore, it is tough to judge whether or not Holden’s judgement is his reality, or it is simply his ambivalence about having sexual feelings towards her. Sally shows up 10 minutes late for a reunion with Holden but, he immediately forgives her since, “if a girl looks swell when she meets you, who gives a damn if she’s late?” (125). Holden further carries this attitude throughout their meeting together. After a couple hours, he is ready to marry her. He tells her his many fantasies of borrowing a car and living in a wood cabin with her, even Darbha 3though, it had been years since they had associated with each other. The phony and stupid Sally is then taken aback as she says “We’re both practically children … did you ever stop to think what you’d do if you didn’t get a job when your money ran out … We’ll have oodles of time to those things … after you go to college.(132).” Holden is completely shut down and faced with reality by Sally as she confronts his idiocy, to understand how each of their lives differentiate. Knowing Holden’s character, if Sally had not worn a scandalous outfit on that particular day, Holden would not have been so keen on living with her, and marrying her instantly. In a similar situation, Holden is offered a prostitute from one of the elevator operators in the Edmont Hotel. This prostitute, who goes by the name of Sunny, is a doubtful young girl with a high voice. In her attempts to seduce him, she removes her dress and sits on his lap. Holden suddenly becomes extremely tense and tells her he is unable to have sex due to an operation on his clavichord. Holden reveals his true feelings about this young prostitute when he says “She was very nervous, for a prostitute. She really was. I think it was because she was young as hell. She was around my age. … She had a tiny little wheeny-whiny voice. You could hardly hear her … She just didn’t know any better. … I took her dress over to the closet and hung it up for her. It was funny. It made me feel sort of sad when I hung it up. I thought of her going in a store and buying it, and nobody in the store knowing she was a prostitute and all. It made me feel sad as hell—I don’t know why exactly. (96).” This monologue Holden carries with himself, portrays his morality and adulthood at the same time. Although Holden willingly agreed to having a prostitute come to his room, he backed away at the last minute with an excuse. Holden had the sensibility to step back, and assess the situation, and thus, he was able to recognize his poor decision. He soon Darbha 4realizes, paying a girl this young for his own pleasure is wrong, and goes entirely against his moral values and beliefs. He would back out, only to save and discourage her from participating from the act of prostitution. It is in Holden’s innocence that he was able to view her as a girl his age. Holden Caulfield’s familial bonds evoke that he himself is emotionally unstable. This is a microcosm of how Holden generally behaves with the world. Out of all his family members, Holden’s younger sister, Phoebe Caulfield brings positivity and rational influence to his life. Phoebe is the sole support of Holden throughout the novel, as she is considerably more mature than him. She is his conscience and voice of reason in Holden’s thoughts and, in the advice given to him by her. Phoebe’s gift of recognizing Holden’s hatred of almost everything in the world, leads to her capability of understanding where Holden fails to attain happiness with the current state of his life. She is therefore depicted as mature and a guide for Holden to lean back on. Phoebe herself having a bubbly and virtuous personality, sees the world as her friend and encourages Holden to do the same, as she truly believes it will improve the quality of the vision of which Holden sees the world through. Her genuine interest towards Holden’s wellbeing is shown during the following conversation “You don’t like a million things. You don’t … Name one thing …”(169). Holden responds with ” One thing? One thing I like? … Okay … The trouble was, I couldn’t concentrate too hot. Sometimes it’s hard to concentrate.”(169). Phoebe, once again had been right. Phoebe’s awareness to major issues causing lack of depth in Holden’s thinking, is an advantage and blessing to Holden’s life, as he is now able to reevaluate his Darbha 5perception on moments throughout his life, in a rational manner. Unlike many of the other characters within the novel, Phoebe does not judge Holden for who he is, but better yet, listens carefully and provides excellent advice to benefit his situation. Phoebe often writes in her journal, which inspires Holden that there is more to life than depression. Holden speaks about this as he says “She has about five thousand notebooks. … I opened the one on top and looked at the first page. …Why has southeastern Alaska so many caning factories? Because there’s so much salmon. Why has it valuable forests? Because it has the right climate. What has our government done to make life easier for the Alaskan Eskimos? … I can read that kind of stuff, some kid’s notebook … all day and all night long. Kids notebooks kill me. (161)” A peek of Holden’s appreciation for his sister is depicted, as he feels completely susceptible to her thoughts and views on life. Phoebe’s free writing within her journal brings a form of mental peace and stability to Holden, and thus provokes his childishness. This is an example of one of Phoebe’s tiny acts of happiness which stimulates Holden to another level of innocence; one he loves dearly and may only attain with his sister. Although Phoebe may be childish in some ways, she loves her brother very dearly and does all in her capabilities to preserve whatever innocence he carries with him. Even though, Holden may not be aware of this, Phoebe thoroughly enjoys playing with the child within Holden, as she feels a certain need to protect her brother, from all the harm that may fall upon him throughout his life. She is aware of his struggles with women and makes it her goal to convince Holden, that nothing is wrong. When Holden borrowed money from Phoebe, she makes sure he is taken care of, “Wait a second—take the rest of your dough, too.” I started giving her the rest of the dough she’d lent me … You keep it. Keep it for me, she said. Darbha 6Then she said right afterward—Please …That’s depressing, when somebody says please to you. I mean if it’s Phoebe or somebody. That depressed the hell out of me. But I put the dough back in my pocket. (211)” One of the reasons it may have been depressing, was that Phoebe helped Holden and did him a favor, yet she portrays herself in a way where he is doing her the favor. The reason Phoebe treats him as an equal, is only because Holden’s level of understanding is really her own age. Phoebe’s dominant qualities of compassion and caring, protect Holden’s sincerity and maturity. In the novel, Holden’s friendships with women, are difficult and he struggles to bond with females, without any feelings of sexual emotions. His constant need to view women as sexual objects, leads him to several disputes when attempting to retain friends throughout his life. This often influences Holden to feel isolated and muddled within his thoughts, and therefore, conflicts his strength to contend with tough situations in his life. One of Holden’s closest friends is Jane Gallagher, a young girl Holden’s age, known as his best friend. Jane could be considered as a romantic interest of Holden, but she differs, as Holden holds the highest amount of respect for her. The amount of love Holden carries for Jane has never changed, despite the amount of boys Jane has dated. Holden feels unconditional love towards her, no matter how much has changed between them. His long term love symbolizes his inner maturity and yearning for a woman, whom he truly loves and respects. When Jane decides to go on a date with Stradlater, one of Holden’s rude and selfish friends, he despises the idea that she is going on a date with someone less worthy of her. This made him jealous, and he constantly questioned Stradlater about their date, and whether or not he had had sex with her in his car. He constantly thinks to himself – Darbha 7″All of a sudden … I got old Jane Gallagher on the brain again. I got her on, and I couldn’t get her off”(76). Additionally, when Stradlater comes to pick up Jane for their date, Holden promises that he will come say hello to him but can not manage to get himself to do it. Holden’s wild obsession over Jane pushes him to to prove to Stradlater that he is the wrong man for Jane. As they talk about chess later within the book, Holden says “…She’d just leave it in the back row. She’d get them all lined up in the back row. Then she’d never use them. She just liked the way they looked when they were all in the back row … Stradlater didn’t say anything. That kind of stuff doesn’t interest most people.” (32). Holden’s true feelings for Jane depicts that he has sincerely learned to appreciate Jane as a person, whereas Stradlater views Jane as a sexual object to play with. Despite several of Holden’s sexual interactions, he understands the importance of true love, and treating women the way they deserve to be treated. Because of this, Holden displays a great deal of maturity to this particular character, Jane Gallagher. Unlike several of the women in his life, Holden has a deep appreciation for her. His worry and compassion towards her is abundant, thus proving the real form of love between them. When Jane had come back from a horrible day, she burst into tears in front of Holden. Holden’s first reaction was “the next thing I knew, I was kissing her all over—anywhere—her eyes, her nose, her forehead, her eyebrows and all, her ears—her whole face except her mouth and all.”(79). It is clear that Holden had not meant any of this in a sexual manner, as a kiss on the lips, could have been mistaken as an attempt of sexual action. Holden had started to kiss her, however he made the conscious decision to avoid her lips, and respect her in that moment of sorrow. Holden’s genuine tender care for Jane, renders a strong sense of direction and intelligence upon his part. In Darbha 8Holden’s life, jane Gallagher brings forth the importance of friendship and companionship throughout the novel. Knowing that Holden Caulfield has been emotionally unstable throughout his entire life, it is a necessity for him to maintain one lasting friendship where nothing matters, other than that relationship. With Jane as his best friend, he soon starts to realize that “You don’t always have to get too sexy to get to know a girl”( ). While going to the movies with Jane, Holden encounters an emotionally satisfying situation. “I held hands with her all the time, for instance. That doesn’t sound like much, I realize, but she was terrific to hold hands with. … We’d get into a goddam movie or something, and right away we’d start holding hands, and we wouldn’t quit till the movie was over. And without changing the position or making a big deal out of it. You never even worried, with Jane, whether your hand was sweaty or not. All you knew was, you were happy. You really were.” (79). Holden is immensely content with the fact that his relationship has reached a point where he may feel only comfort with Jane. The fact that Holden had not assumed it was a sexual relationship, or asked Jane to have a sexual encounter, is evidence of a distinct behavioral change in Holden’s attitude towards women. To conclude, it was evident multiple times in J.D Salinger’s novel, The Catcher in the Rye, that women influenced Holden Caulfield’s path from innocence to maturity. This power that women possess over him, develops sexual relations, familial bonds, and strong friendships. Within The Catcher in the Rye, the couple squirting water, Sunny, Sally Hayes, Phoebe Caulfield, and Jane Gallagher are symbolic women in the novel which bring out the story’s true essence.