Caulfield and Alienation
In the book The Catcher in the Rye, the main character, Holden Caulfield, often feels alienated by the world and the people around him. He often feels lonely, sad, and depressed. The reader may feel sorry for Holden, and that society alienates the boy. The fact of the matter is that Holden causes his own alienation from society.
Right away the first chapter of the book gives us insight into his alienation. The author introduces Holden while hes away from his fellow students attending a school football game. He is on top of Thomsen Hill and says, practically the whole school except me was there Holden creates excuses why he was there, such as that he was on his way to meet someone and that the fencing team was angry with him. He could have been down at the game with the student body, but chooses not too. Not long after in chapter 4, the reader gets another glimpse of Holdens self-inflicted alienation. His roommate, Stradlater, has a date with an old friend of his. She is someone Holden cares deeply for and is instantly excited upon Stradlater mentioning her name. Multiple times, Stradlater tells Holden to go downstairs and say hi, but Holden repeats, I will, in a minute. Holden may be shy, but this is just another example of him alienating himself from others. It would have been easy to just go down there and exchange greetings, but Holden decides not to.
Another example of Holden alienating himself comes in chapter 15 where Holden thinks about calling Jane Gallagher. This thought reoccurs in the book, but it always ends up with Holden deciding not to. Whenever he thinks about calling Jane, Holden makes up an excuse not to, estranging himself more from others as well as society. Throughout the book, Holden often makes judgments and assumptions about people. He seems cynical and almost a know-it-all. Upon making these judgments, Holden further distances himself from society and others. In the beginning of chapter 13 we find Holden walking alone, rather than taking a cab. This may seem like a small example of him pushing away from society, but its an on going occurrence, and serves as a symbol of the magnitude of Holdens self-inflicted alienation.
Holden distances himself from everyone and thing and cannot keep good friendships and relationships. Even when he has a chance to stray from his original path of dejection, he chooses not to and remains depressed. Holden Caulfield may believe that he is a victim of society but in truth, he is the cause of his own alienation.