Alienation And Self-Protection In Catcher In The Rye

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Alienation as Self-Protection in The Catcher in the Rye
Throughout the novel The Catcher in the Rye, there are many themes, motifs and symbols that emerge and develop along with Holden, the protagonist, and the plot. Though the most significant theme is alienation as means for self-protection. In many instances, Holden isolates and alienates himself from his peers and the world in order to protect his morals and his self-imposed superiority. The first evidence of this alienation occurs when Holden speaks to his history teacher, Mr. Spencer. While talking about Mr. Thurmer’s lecture, Holden begins to ponder the “right side”, stating “if you get on the other side, where there aren’t any hot-shots, then what’s the game about?” (Salinger 12).
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After arriving, Holden “went into [a] phone booth” and spent “about twenty minutes” without calling anybody (77-78). After pondering the many people he could call, Holden finally thinks of calling “Carl Luce, but [he] didn’t like him much” (78). While Holden has many people whom he could call, he spends twenty minutes convincing himself of why he cannot call any of these people. This illustrates alienation as Holden chooses to avoid talking to others, isolating himself when he could have easily chosen to interact with others. Moreover, this alienation provides Holden with self-protection as he does not run into any chances of his parents finding out that he has been expelled from school and has run away to New York. Part of the reason Holden does not call his sister, Phoebe, is due to his “parents being the ones that answered the phone” (77). Holden finds protection in avoiding talking to anybody, which results in isolation. This event contributes to plot development as after refusing to call anybody, Holden continues to make excuses for things he should be doing, but does not. With each of Holden’s excuses, new adventures arrive, thus thickening and developing the

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