Catcher In The Rye Essay

1487 words - 6 pages

A Boy Undone Holden Caulfield is an outsider whose cynical views and attitudes completely disassociate him from the world. He isolates himself, but at the same time yearns for companionship. His idealistic view of what the world should be causes him to shield himself from intimacy and normal interaction. He desperately tries to find emotional satisfaction, but refuses to let anyone in. The root of Holden's disillusionment lies in the traumatic death of his brother Allie who symbolizes the innocence Holden does not want to grow out of and is the cause of his alienation. He is terrified of adulthood and its inherent hypocrisy and ugliness which diminish the beauty and innocence which Allie's short life represented. He had a strong connection with Allie and feels reluctant to connect with anyone else for fear of more pain. His constant internal torment and overwhelming loneliness inevitably lead to his breakdown. One can easily see very early on that Holden is disassociated and an outsider. He does not go to his school football game and is being kicked out. According to Holden everyone are a bunch of "phonies." When he goes to say goodbye to his teacher, "Old Spencer" lectures him about the future saying, "Life is a game, boy. life is a game one plays according to the rules." Holden replies, "Yes, sir. I know it is. I know it." However, he thinks to himself, "Game, my ass. Some game. If you get on the side where all the hot-shots are, then it's a game, all right-I'll admit that. But if you get on the other side, where there aren't any hot-shots, then what's a game about it? Nothing. No game" (Salinger 8). This clearly shows his lack of communication towards adults and his avoidance of confrontation. He does not want to hear about the future because he avoids everything that has to do with growing up. One can also see further isolation when he identifies with those on the "other side" of the game. Holden's fear of the future and facing his problems is the result of his brother's death. He has never dealt with Allie's death so how can he even begin to deal with the future? He wants to stay innocent as Allie was when he died. By avoiding the future, Holden believes he is holding on to the memory of his "innocent" brother. Holden attributes his anger to the fact that the world is filled with "phonies." However, in reality it is because he has not dealt with the pain of losing Allie. Therefore, he lashes out at the world and instead of dealing with his loss, shuts everyone out. He does not talk about his emotions or Allie's death. He says that he slept in the garage the night he died and broke all the windows "just for the hell of it" (Salinger 39). It is obvious his brother's death was traumatic for him, and he did not break the windows "just for the hell of it" (Salinger 39), but he says this in order to hide his emotions and feelings. This is an example of how Allie's death is the cause of Holden hiding his pain and not dealing...

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