Holden Caulfield Isolation

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The novel The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, delves into the theme of alienation as a form of self-protection, through three main motifs which are embodied by the protagonist, Holden Caufield. Holden is a teenager struggling with finding “real” relationships, resulting in him continuously retreating into loneliness and frequently lying to most people he encounters daily. These actions carried out by Holden reflect the three main motifs of the story which are loneliness, relationships, and lying/deception. The nature of Holden’s actions within the novel displays his enigma of emotions, as he wants to speak to others and create relationships with them, but also says they are “phony” which pushes him back into his shell of isolation. …show more content…

Holden Caulfield is shaped to be deeply lonely and isolated by the author despite his interactions with others throughout the story. He is alienated from his peers and his family, as he constantly feels like an outsider looking in. This can be seen in the first chapter when Holden stands on top of a hill looking down on those at a nearby football game. Not only is Holden physically looking down on those at the game but he is also isolating himself from them as a form of self-protection. He does this because he wants to protect himself from the potential phoniness to which he could be susceptible. Holden carries a belief that everyone else around him is “phony” and he is the only “real” person left in the world besides children. This belief which Holden carries throughout the story that others are insincere or fake, causes him to isolate himself by avoiding contact with others. However, this misguided attempt to protect himself only worsens the alienation and loneliness which he experiences. Although Holden desires meaningful relationships and connections with others, he struggles with letting down his protective shield and opening up to others to create those …show more content…

This is displayed in how he perceives sex as a commitment on an emotional level and is recoiled by the idea of it. This is seen in Holden’s behavior towards the prostitute in New York as he reveals his aversion to physical relationships through his refusal to have sex with her. Holden’s reluctance to engage with others on a deep level physically or emotionally is not only tailored to his fear of physical commitment, but it also stems from his destained perception of the complexities and unpredictability of the adult world. The unpredictability of the adult world is the driving force behind why Holden alienates himself as a form of self-protection when pertaining to relationships with others. He fears that within these relationships he will indirectly become phony because of similarities between the relationship and the phoniness of the adult world. Holden makes this very clear with his actions towards other characters he encounters throughout the novel. Although Holden’s behavior demonstrates his desire for meaningful connections with others, his actions display a hypocrisy of what he truly wants. Holden likes relationships and wants to be in one but he also wants to be isolated at the same time to protect himself from others. Even going out of his way to lie just to avoid

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