The Theme Of Alienation In The Catcher In The Rye

Decent Essays
The Catcher in the Rye has various themes, but each theme is linked to one another. A major theme in this novel is alienation which revolves around other themes such as loss of innocence, sentiment, self-esteem, phoniness, and the painfulness of leaving your ‘nest.’ The protagonist, Holden Caulfield, alienates himself from his world of phonies to shelter himself from the hectic and cruel stage of the adult world. As cynical and short-tempered Holden seems, he is really sensitive, has a proclivity for childhood innocence, and suffers from a low-self esteem. The problem is that he does not realize it. As the events in the novel progress, it is perceptible that Holden is very sentimental because he would complain about how things changed since…show more content…
He uses the concept of alienation to protect himself from anything that counteracts his train of thoughts or beliefs. It is like a wall that he built, but the problem is that both the good and bad do not enter his imaginary wall, therefore it makes him feel numb. Holden concludes that everyone around him (except a small percentage) is phony in the sense that they are conventional in their words and actions, so they fake everything they do to fit into the adult world. Holden does not like it when someone confronts his fears or actions, just like Mr. Spencer did. Mr. Spencer repeatedly told Holden how he does not “apply” himself in all his subjects and goals, which gave Holden the urge to leave the room promptly after his teacher’s words of ‘encouragement.’ Alienation also includes the bottling of his feelings, he would try to hide them, but there were a few times when he tried to become a bit vulnerable. For example, his ride with the taxi driver, he tried to interact with him by asking questions, but the question that stood out was when Holden asked the driver about where the ducks go when the pond freezes in the park. It may strike off as a curious question, but there is a deeper meaning than its superficial surface. Although Holden does not completely comprehend his question, the ducks symbolize himself and his youth, while the pond symbolizes his soon to be dreadful circumstances and his perilous wall of…show more content…
He mentioned how the display glasses looked the same since he was a kid, and found it admirable. He found his sister and told her about everything and how he wanted to get out of this city, and she asked him if she could come, but Holden refused which caused her to get into a fit and storm off. The next day he snuck into his house without his parents’ knowledge and talked to Phoebe. She teased him about how unambitious he is and how he despised everything, calling him immature and lazy. He then mentioned how he would always dream of being on a cliff, standing on the edge, and protect little kids from falling off into a hurtful abyss. Once again, this is just the superficial meaning. What Holden sub consciously means is that he wants to protect little children, that are in their childhood, from falling into the abyss, which is the painful world of growing up and being an adult. This shows how sentimental Holden is about childhoods and innocence, and how adulthood is like plummeting from a cliff to your death. All he wants to do is preserve that for other younger children. Holden then takes Phoebe to a park where she rides the carousel several times, and Holden just sat on the bench with his red hunting hat while it was raining. And at that moment, Holden felt sheer happiness and smiled at his sister, wistfully, which made him feel like he accomplished his goal. All
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