4 Reasons The Catcher in The Rye Was Banned

From 1961 to 1982, JD Sallinger’s hit novel, The Catcher in The Rye, was one of the most censored books in US schools and libraries. Many people still find it offensive today. That may come as a surprise, or it may not, but either way it’s a fact. Let’s look at four reasons why The Catcher in The Rye was banned.

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Offensive Language


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One of the main reasons people have banned The Catcher in The Rye is because it contains foul language. The protagonist, a sixteen-year-old boy named Holden swears throughout the book, which makes parents feel like he’s a bad role model for their teens who are reading the novel in school. “Damn”, “hell”, “crap”, and “ass”, are only some of the words Holden uses. Parents fear that their teens will mimic Holden’s behavior and think it’s acceptable that the book is being promoted in school. Holden makes many mistakes throughout the novel—the book’s  goal is to normalize teenagers making mistakes. However, many authority figures feel that the novel not only excuses Holden’s poor behavior, but also defends it, claiming he doesn’t know better because he’s so young.

Sexual Content


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The sexual content presented in The Catcher in The Rye infuriates many, including teachers and parents. In the story, Holden often lusts over women and sometimes doesn’t take hints of rejection. Some of the circumstances that take place in the novel could even be seen as sexual harassment, like when Holden thinks Mr. Antonelli was trying to take advantage of him while he was sleeping. Many people also despised the discussion of prostitution and premarital sex in the novel.



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Violence is also present in The Catcher in the Rye, and many adults are unhappy about it. The most memorable example of this is when Holden lets Stradlater, beat him up. In fact, he makes Stradlter angry on purpose because he is depressed and wants to feel some type of physical pain. This makes parents worry that their teens will think self-harm is a good way to deal with depression after reading the book. Violence also is shown in the novel through Holden’s conflict with Maurice, and the suicide of James Castle.

Dug and Alcohol Abuse


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People all around the world worry that The Catcher in The Rye promotes drug and alcohol abuse. In the novel, Holden uses alcohol to escape his problems and erase his poor interactions with others from his mind. Since Holden is able to get rid of his problems through drinking, parents wonder what will prevent their teens from doing the same? Some of them also feel that Holden portrays the message that drinking is the only way to deal with problems that you can’t fix on your own. It’s understandable that they find that message covering.


While some people wanting The Catcher in The Rye to be banned is totally understandable, adults and teens should be allowed to read it at libraries and schools, as it’s an incredibly educational novel. The book promotes many moral lessons that are essential for high schoolers to understand if they want to grow up and live successful lives, such as the importance of education, psychical health, self-care, and respect.


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