It is usually when Holden, an iconoclast, becomes upset, sad, happy, or just any extreme emotion, that we see the motif of a game or sport come up. For example, when old Spencer has the talk about life being a game, and that “one must play according to the rules” (Salinger, J.D. Catcher in the Rye. Page 12, Chapter 2), Holden completely rejects him, but yet still pays attention to what he has to say, unlike right after where they start to go off into talking about the essay and Holden almost completely ignores him and thinks that “you don’t have to think to hard when you talk to a teacher” (pg. 18 Chapter 2). Holden likes to reject authority and wants to see himself as an adult. Mocking, criticizing, and back talking adults is not the way to be proven mature, but to learn, interpret, and indulge, what the adults are trying to say to him, is how Holden must became the mature adult he wants to be. Holden not only wants to be a mature teenager, but also longs to belong to a group, or to have someone to call a friend.
However Holden sometimes tries a little too hard and his emotions get in the way of what he is trying to accomplish. For example, in the fight with Stradlater, Holden wrote the wrong assignment. Holden tries to appear to be dominate by ripping up the paper and telling Stradlater to write his own. The relation to the motif, Holden writes Stradlater’s paper based off of Allie’s glove. This paper was very sentimental to Holden, he also mentions that he “sort of liked writing about it” but, by ripping it up; he attempted to show his dominance. By fighting Stradlater, a foil character to Holden, wanted to prove he was grown up, but the irony in this was that, by fighting him, this actually showed his immaturity by fighting for an obnoxious reason. The overall connection is that, the motif, games and sports, is repeatedly brought up throughout the book; in mentioning Allie’s baseball glove, competitive football, and him mentioning that he plays golf, all forms of this motif. Holden doesn’t want to nor likes to play by the rules, and in the end he usually gets punished, or he later on in the book pays for it.