Identity In The Catcher In The Rye

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There are some different types of identity in the society. People can maintain the identity as a member of a community such as a country or religion, and the identity as an individual, or personality. Thus, the theme of identity can be argued in some ways. For example, “First Muse,” the poem written by Julia Alvarez is about the Mexican-American girl who faces the problem to have her identity as an American. The Catcher in the Rye, the novel written by J. D. Salinger, is also based on the process of establishing the sixteen-year-old boy’s identity by spending time in New York. In these stories, both teenage characters struggle to establish their identity by feeling loneliness, and their thoughts were changed through the experience. Therefore,…show more content…
Holden complains that "I was surrounded by phonies" (13) in the novel. Besides it, he often uses the word “depress” to describe somebody around him or what he experiences. In other words, he always looks down on other people, and because of this, most of the time he is isolated from people around him. Additionally, he does not have any real personal connection with others except his sister, Phoebe, and brother, D.B. In the story, Holden tries to be different from others because it is the way to express identity for him. It causes him to be isolated from the society, and he sometimes feels loneliness in his life. Similarly, the girl in “First Muse” feels sadness and loneliness when she realizes that there is the literary border. She says, "I was stunned ...and fought back tears" (Alvarez, 3-5). Additionally, she says that "Maybe I could be the one exception to this writing rule?" (16). These things what she says represent that she is in deep sorrow and feels isolated because she is hit by the reality of the situation that the famous poet thinks the poem can be written only in the mother tongue. She believes she is an American and she had an identity, however, the literary border prevents her to have a confidence and maintain identity. Thus, it makes her to think she is isolated and feels loneliness. In short, the feelings that both Holden and the girl feel when they struggle…show more content…
Through the experience to maintain identity, their thoughts were changed, and both of them become optimistic. At the end of the story of The Catcher in the Rye, Holden allows to go to the new school and decides to apply the school. Before he spends time in New York and goes back to his home, he did not think he wants to go to school because he considered all people around him as “phonies,” and he was not so interested in studying. That is also one of the reasons that he was kicked out from the school four times. In addition, when Mr. Antolini who was his English teacher teaches Holden the importance of getting academic experience by going to the school, Holden did not pay so much attention to what Mr. Antolini says. But, after he goes back to home, he decides to go a school again. It means that his thought is changed through his process of constructing identity, and probably his idea towards identity is changed, too. There is one more evidence that shows his way of thinking becomes different from before. In the last chapter, he says, "I sort of miss everybody I told about" (214). When he was at the school, he kept his individual identity by trying to be different from others and he despised other people. However, at the end of the story, he misses everybody he mentioned. It represents that his way of expressing his identity and his thoughts are a little bit changed. And the
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