Catcher In The Rye Alienation Essay

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Rebels Without a Cause: Alienation in The Catcher in the Rye and The Bell Jar When most people think of the 1950s, they think of things like drive-in movies, poodle skirts, bobby socks, I Love Lucy, and Buddy Holly. But beneath the era’s conformist and highly materialist facade lay a largely overlooked underground world of racism, McCarthyism, and anxiety. This so-called Silent Generation was born too late to fight in World War II but still had to deal with its repercussions. People like Jack Kerouac, Malcolm X, Arthur Miller, Ralph Ellison, and yes, Sylvia Plath and J.D. Salinger struggled with the alienation that was typical of their generation. Nowhere is this alienation better portrayed than in Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye and Plath’s The Bell Jar, which act as scathing indictments of the hypocrisy and “phoniness” inherent in affluent 1950s society. The lost souls in these two books grapple with the many contradictions of the American Dream. Throughout The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield isolates himself from …show more content…

It is clear that Holden is at odds with the mainstream, as he controversially identifies as an atheist and a pacifist. In many ways, Holden was before his time. His prevalent profanity, lying, and drinking contrast with our traditional view as of the 1950s as a paradigm of virtue. Perhaps the best representation of this “man against society” struggle is the tragic case of James Castle. Castle, a relatively minor character, is one of the few people other than Holden who speaks out against the status quo by calling a well-to-do fellow student “a very conceited guy” (Salinger 188). Castle ends up throwing himself out a window rather than taking back what he said and “selling out” to mainstream society. It is no mere coincidence that James Castle has the same initials as Jesus

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