Isolation: Catcher in the Rye and Rime of the Ancient Mariner

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Isolation is a psychological state that hinders any social ties from being knotted. It shatters humans, plunging them into a downward-spiraling cycle of destructive behaviors. Though predominantly caused by a disconnection from society, loneliness can also be due to a fear of rejection. Two classics that give an unorthodox portrayal of this concept are “Catcher in the Rye” by J.D Salinger and “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Coleridge. As the authors were influenced by contrasting historical movements, the stories contain different perceptions of isolation. Yet both can successfully justify their ideas through a multitude of techniques.

In the texts, the author’s maxims are continuously entwined with the storyline. “Catcher in the Rye” for example satirizes the fault of humans by allowing the reader to see society through the heavily cynical mind of J.D Salinger. The 1951 novel was speaks of a rebel living in a decade largely described as the epitome of materialism. Throughout the book, Salinger expresses his distain for people who want to aspire to the superficial and egoistic status quos of such a period. He proclaimed, "I’m just sick of ego, ego, ego. … I’m sick of everybody that wants to get somewhere, do something distinguished and all, be somebody interesting. It’s disgusting.”

Holden Caulfield, the protagonist, likewise shares the same view as his creator. He goes through life showering his contempt for snobs in such quotes as “the more expensive a school is, the more crooks it has.” Finding this world to be too horrible, Caulfield purposefully isolates himself as a way of rejecting society.

On the other hand, Coleridge’s poem explains that isolation is the symptom of a psycho-spiritual disorder. Influence by Romanticism, he believed any emotion turmoil was due to a spiritual discontentment. So when he realized his own constant fluctuations between extreme euphoria and suicidal feelings of dejection (today known as bipolar disorder), he...
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