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Alienation in The Catcher in the Rye Essay



J.D. Salingers novel The Catcher in the Rye represents the life of a teenager dealing with his personal issues. The main character, Holden, has a record of poor grades and has been kicked out of four private boarding schools. Phoebe, Holdens younger sister, seems to be the only person in the book that Holden can have a mature conversation with without thinking the person in not genuine. Another extremely important character in the novel is Sally Hayes. Sally is a love interest of Holden who plays a large part in Holdens life. Jane Gallagher also plays a major role in Holdens life even though she never physically appears in the novel. One of the main themes of the novel is the idea of being separated. There are many situations where Holden feels alienated from woman and society.

The Catcher in the Rye represents the theme of alienation through one of the main characters in the novel, Sally. There are many instances where Sally alienates Holden. Sally alienates Holden when they are in the cab. After Holden tells Sally that he loves her, she tells him crew cuts arecorny and that Holden should grow his hair out (Salinger 125). Sally alienates Holden in this situation because she tells Holden that she loves him too but that he should change the way he looks. Her comment was rude and shows how she likes him but that he doesnt completely fit her standards. Holden can also alienate himself from people throughout the novel. Holden tells Sally that she can be a royal pain in the ass (133). He alienates himself in this situation by insulting his peer and hurting her feelings and ultimately making her not want to be with him. Another situation in which alienates himself is on the night he gets very drunk

and calls Sally. On Sally and Holdens date, Sally asked Holden if he would come and help her trim her Christmas tree over the holidays. When Holden is under the influence later that night he calls Sally and tells her that he will trimma goddma tree for [her] like Sally had asked him to earlier in the novel (151). The drunken phone call upsets Sally and shows Holdens true immaturity and need for acceptance.

Sally is not the only person that Holden pushes away and alienates himself from, but he also alienates himself from Jane Gallanger. The theme of alienation is reveals in the reactions between Holden and Jane. Holden wants to talk to Jane the night Stradlater, his roommate at Pencey Prep, has a date with Jane. Despite desperately wanting to connect with Jane he cannot bring himself to talk to her. Holden keeps telling himself that he should go down stairs to say hello but he claims that hes not in the mood right now because hes nervous about seeing her (33). Holden and Jane were very close. Holden remembers one time where he practically her lap holding her in his arms and kissing her all over-anywhere while she cried (78). Holden remembers how with Jane you were always disliked. He recalls how all you knew was, you were happy while he was with Jane (79). He felt the kindliness that a person who has such a wonderful personality and a flame can put it off. Simply being with Jane makes Holden happy, yet he fears that she wont like him anymore and pushes her away. He can never bring himself to talk to her, but he is always thinking about her. When Holden arrives in New York, he goes to a phone booth and feels like calling Jane, but again he didnt feel like it (59). Throughout the novel Holden talks about his and Janes past relationship and how wonderful he thought it was, but he does not do anything to rekindle their friendship. Holden alienates himself from Jane by fearing her. Holden alienates himself repeatedly from both Jane and Sally.

Through out the Catcher in the Rye, Holden alienates himself from females. He often alienates himself by displaying abrasive behaviors and saying inappropriate comments. Sally Hayes puts up with Holdens actions for a while, but eventually she cant deal with them anymore. Jane on the other hand never even speaks to Holden because he cannot approach her. Holdens immaturity alienates him sometimes too. He often makes a fool out of himself by trying to act cool or older. Every time Holden does this he contradicts himself because he is acting fraud, something he hates. It is not society or young woman that alienates Holden, it is Holden that alienates himself from the situations.

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