The Role Of Individualism In Catcher In The Rye

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Sanskriti Merchant SYBA 345,141259 A. ENG. 4.02 28th January 2016 Corruption of the American Dream with references from works of J D Salinger and Bret Easton Ellis In simple terms, the American Dream is the vision of every American and pseudo American to be prosperous in every way humanely possible. It is a dream of abundance of goods, their novelty and democracy. It is a man’s hallucination of a consumerist lifestyle, that which he treats as his fundamental right- as pertinent as his right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Is the pursuit of happiness then synonymous to his craving for success? Money might well as be a unit of measurement of happiness in modern day America. A sort of token given to those who accept conformity…show more content…
Holden Caulfield is a character much like Huck Finn who chooses to bathe in the glory of individualism. On leaving his Prep school, he comes in contact with reality and encounters people, most of whom he dislikes. He is appalled at their need for approval and pretentiousness. A Journalist, William Whyte termed these people as the “organization men” which he defined as individuals focused on getting along and incapable of any kind of independent thought or action. Caulfield offered his own term of disparagement- phony and thus appeals to broadly shared anxieties about a conformist culture. A conformist culture is a rising repercussion of the American Dream as stated earlier. When his sister asks him what he wants to be when he grows up, he boldly…show more content…
How would you know you weren’t being a phony? The trouble is, you wouldn’t.” (Salinger, Catcher in the Rye, 92) His constant need to defy norms and ridicule materialism defies the Dream to such an extent that it almost seems like he is mocking the dream. He chooses to evade the pressure of making it big in life contrary to his classmates. Timothy Aubry, a critic, comments on the novel’s blatant attitude. “Since 1951 when it was first published, The Catcher in the Rye has served as a resonant expression of alienation for several generations of adolescent readers and adults who have considered themselves at odds with the norms and institutions of American society.” Holden looks at the people in New York City leading society’s version of idealistic lives and feels repulsed. His view on life is cynical, not at all in line with the optimism of the American Dream. This book could then be an antithesis of the idea. The protagonist even tries to safeguard his sister from the materialistic world thus treating it like a source of
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