Catcher in the Rye

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Individuality in society is what makes our culture exist. Each person seems to be opposite of the next in their choices and their preferences. What makes one person happy, make not even bring a smile to the next. The one thing that each individual does have in common is the fact that to gain happiness, one much search for it. This quest may involve many different characteristics. Some battle the quest for happiness with the company of others, and some battle the quest for happiness alone. Whether this quest leads to a material happiness or a spiritual happiness depends on the individual who is brave enough to tackle the search. In The Catcher in the Rye, "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" and "For Esme—With Love and Squalor," Salinger argues that the quest for happiness is not material, but spiritual; he does this by creating characters who cannot cope with the world around them and search for a spiritual happiness through loneliness, by detailing this spiritual quest through religious symbols that form a foundation, which his characters build their lives upon, and by displaying symbols that seem to predict a better life by signifying a turning point which leads to an eventual happiness. Salinger's characters are generally misfits of society, protagonists that undergo a spiritual happiness by being unable to conform to a material happiness, forcing them to isolate themselves from this society. In The Catcher in the Rye, "A Perfect Day for Bananafish", and "For Esme—With Love and Squalor", loneliness is used to isolate characters from evil. Salinger portrays all of society to be horrific, and for many character's isolation from this repulsion is the only way to achieve happiness (Grunwald 103). In The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield's entire plot deals with him trying to isolate himself from the rest of the world. Holden realizes that society has become corrupt, and wants no part in this terrible life that he is obligated to live (French 192). In this case, Salinger uses society as the source of discord to be isolated from. Holden is shown as a hermit at the end of The Catcher in the Rye. Grunwald explains "Holden's tranquility, at the end, can be ascribed to his isolation from society" (Grunwald 68). Holden only wants to be separated from the society, which considers him a misfit. In Salinger's novels, such as the one discussed above, a source of unhappiness is usually the fact that society views the characters as nonconformists. The characters can only become content if they isolate themselves from this very culture and search for peacefulness within themselves. Salinger uses loneliness also as a means to change in the way that these characters live. Salinger is able to use isolation to change the life of Seymour Glass (Salzman 130). Seymour feels that society has become corrupt and must change his lifestyle in order for him to find a sense of pleasure. Seymour sees that society has no more compassion on people, and that he must do something to change it. In order for him to change he must first isolate from society (Salzman 136, 140). Salinger uses loneliness again to benefit mankind. Salinger in this case makes a person change his lifestyle to separate from the very culture that surrounds him. The benefits of this action are good not only for the person who has changed, but also helps parts of society, which are deeply affected (Salzman 132). Salinger's use of loneliness benefits his characters greatly. He is able to isolate his characters in order for them to attain happiness. Salinger describes Seymour as "A recluse, who will never be part of society" (Grunwald 260, 265). He shows that Seymour wants nothing of this world and wants to be as far away as possible. The characters see that their civilization has become dire, and in order for them to become content they must get away from this society, and live their own lives. In "For Esme—With Love and Squalor", Salinger shows that the lead...
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