American Literature And Ways They Cultivate Their Own Methods Of Survival Within Their Societies

1484 Words Nov 1st, 2014 6 Pages
Literary theorist Ihab Hassan discusses the different types rebel-outsiders in American literature and ways they cultivate their own methods of survival within their societies. A common outsider to which he refers is the lonely adolescent. As a character straddling the cusp of childhood and adulthood, the lonely adolescent navigates through a loss of innocence and disenchantment to come to terms with his own male identity, as well as establish his role in society and find purpose as an adult.
J.D. Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye follows anti-hero Holden Caulfield through a seemingly innocuous trip in New York City. Throughout his journey, Holden tries desperately to interact with others but often finds himself alienated; in this way, Salinger portrays him more as an outsider, always staring with his nose pressed up against the glass, as opposed to a rebel actively revolting against society. However, Holden has a great irony about him: he wants to establish friendships but he simultaneously believes that everybody is an insincere “phony” and a hypocrite not worth befriending (Privitera). In this way, Holden is always on the outside staring in, but he is also genuinely afraid of opening himself to others. This is evident in the way that he compulsively lies to strangers in New York, first telling Ernest Morrow’s mother that his name is Rudolf Schmidt and that her son is a wonderful boy, as opposed to a terrible person (Salinger 35). The aliases he gives himself are…
Open Document