Holden's Attempt at Isolation in "Catcher in the Rye" Essay

686 Words Mar 20th, 2008 3 Pages
As humans we sometimes seek isolation rather than human interaction for fear of being overwhelmed emotionally. For some people, comfort comes with the knowledge that alone, they are the masters of their own emotions, free from the pain of the world's occasional bitterness and sting. In the coming-of-age tale "Catcher in the Rye," J.D. Salinger explores this phenomenon through the voice of the narrator, Holden Caulfield. Although Holden possesses a voice of intelligence, sensitivity and insight he is also bitter with the hypocrisy and ugliness that he perceives in the world around him. The vividness with which he expresses his discontent is seen manifested in the criticisms that Holden aims at various characters throughout the story. As the …show more content…
There is also a sense of self-consciousness that surrounds the hat as well. Holden never fails to mention when he is going to wear the hat and even removes the hat when he is going to be around people he knows, because "it was corny" but he "liked it that way." His self-consciousness of his hat therefore introduces a new component to the theme: Holden's want for isolation versus his desire for companionship.

As the novel progresses, we realize that ironically Holden's alienation becomes the source of most of his pain throughout the book. Although he never realizes the fact that his pain is being derived from his isolation and lack of human interaction, Salinger places clues in the book that tell us that it is so. With the introduction of Sally Hayes, Salinger is able to craft a relationship that effectively depicts the conflict in Holden. It is loneliness that initially propels Holden into a date with Sally. However, during the date Holden's need for isolation returns, he "didn't even know why" he "started all that stuff with her. The truth is" he "probably wouldn't have taken her even if she wanted to go." Because Sally is unable to recognize the feelings on the "phoniness" of school that he projects, he becomes frustrated and uses a rampaging monologue to upset her and drive her away. The only time in the
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