Holden's Inability to Integrate Himself Into Society

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Holden’s Inability to Integrate Himself in Society
Holden Caulfield can best be described as a peculiar human being particularly due to the fact that he refuses to amalgamate himself with the mass. He does not think or act according to the norms of society. In turn, he hides from anything that will change and not stay the same because it is unfamiliar to him and he becomes somewhat scared of unfamiliar surroundings. Holden wishes he could stay in an unchanging place which provides Holden with comfort. He would love to become a catcher in the rye – a figment of his imagination – who prevents children from falling over a cliff, symbolical of their transition from innocence to corruption. Being the catcher in the rye, he would stay away from corruption, superficiality and hypocrisy. However, it is his cynicism that does not allow him to partake in normal teenage activities because of the fact that he looks down at the world in pure contempt. His strong self-affliction eventually created a barrier between himself and the world, making it almost impossible for him to engage in social activities with other his age for his preconceived notions of what people are generally like does not allow him to enjoy himself. Although Holden wants the reader to think that he is somewhat normal in the eyes of society, the fact that he has psychological problems and his adolescent views that has been fed on his fear of change, his cynicism and his denial, creates a barrier between him and the world thus, not allowing him to integrate himself into society as easily as a regular teenager would.

Holden distances himself from change because he knows it is inevitable, however, stuck between his childhood and adulthood, he avoids confrontation the same way a child would when scared. His refusal to accept change causes him to further alienate himself from society. The best thing, though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was. Nobody’d move...Nobody’d be different. The only thing that would be different would be you. (Salinger 121) Holden’s pessimistic outlook on life tarnishes any open-mindedness that Holden could have harboured deep down towards society. He attempts to prevent change the best he can. For example, Holden does his best to scrub off the swear words on the wall. Scrubbing these words off can prevent children from learning these curse words at the current early age they’re at. Through little, significant things, such as this example, does Holden actually show his uniqueness from the rest of society. Teenagers, normally, do not take the time to scrub the ink off of vandalized property for the sake of the minds of children. I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. (173) The fact that Holden feels as if it is his duty to protect children from being corrupted is enough in itself to set Holden apart from everyone else. However, the fact that he thinks he must do this while being the catcher in the rye, makes him seem, at times, delirious. Delusions – like being the catcher in the rye – and the preconceived notions that he harbours about society are factors that could have ultimately contributed to his untimely demise in the end. There are implications that Holden resides in a mental institution. The foreshadowing for this particular fall of Holden’s was mentioned almost towards the end of the book where Antolini states: I have a feeling that you’re riding for some kind of terrible, terrible fall...The whole arrangement’s designed for men who, at some time or other in their lives, were looking for something their own environment couldn’t supply them with....So they gave up looking. (186-187) This quote itself could be interpreted as the...
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