The Role Of Alienation In Catcher In The Rye

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Throughout The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caufield distances himself from others. In fact, Holden begins his narration on top of Thomsen Hill, alone, while “...the whole school except me was ...down at the game” (Salinger 3). Furthermore, it can be inferred that Holden,”the most terrific liar you saw in your whole life”, lies to isolate himself and get out of uncomfortable situations (Salinger 16). While it is clear that Holden wishes to alienate himself, the reasons why he does so is more complex. It appears that Holden wields alienation as a form of self-protection. He tries to alienate himself from a number of things, including sexual intimacy and “phonies”, that represent adulthood. This suggests that Holden is afraid of growing up and…show more content…
Not only does he “stop” when girls ask him to on his double dates with Stradlater, but he also evades being intimate with a prostitute and instead lies about recovering from “an operation… a ways down the spinal canal” (Salinger 96). His struggles with sex also portray the trouble he has with establishing close relationships in general, and reflects his emotional and social isolation from those around him. The fact that he remains a virgin represents not only alienation but also protection from an action symbolic of adulthood. Holden also consistently sets himself apart from his peers, who represent the transition between growth and maturity, and who, in Holden’s eyes, are no different from “phony” adults. He realizes that his peers are growing up, and are slowly being “molded” into beings of society. Though he admits himself to being a compulsive liar, he is condescending of their “fake” and socially accepted attitudes. Perhaps by partially admitting his own “fakeness” and simply being aware of “phoniness” in the world, he believes he is setting himself apart from all those he believes to be
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