Similarities Between the Catcher in the Rye and Sic Vita

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Sarah Seward
October 10, 2008
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The book The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger is a popular book about a boy who feels isolated from the world and refuses to conform to the world. The poem Sic Vita by Henry Waldo Thoreau is about a man who does not fit into the world in which he lives. The two literary works are very similar because the themes of isolation and nonconformity are very present in the main characters lives’, the authors’ lives and the literary periods in which they were written. The book The Catcher in the Rye and the poem Sic Vita are very much alike in content because both show the theme of segregation and dissidence from society. The characters are similar because both characters feel separated from the world. In The Catcher in the Rye, Holden never seems to fit in with anyone he comes in contact with. Holden seems to judge every person negatively that he comes in contact with throughout the novel. For example, when Holden goes on a date with Sally to go see a show, Sally runs into an acquaintance of hers and Holden calls the young man a “jerk” who is “strictly Ivy League” before he ever has a conversation with this person (Salinger 126). This example shows us that Holden is so segregated from his peers and even people in general that he can only sit back and judge others for feeling and having a life in which Holden does not possess because of his solidarity. Holden also seems to have the most fun when he is by himself. Holden is constantly with himself throughout the novel whether he is riding on a train, walking through the park, at a bar, in his room at the hotel or where ever, in general Holden spends a majority of the novel alone. The other part of the novel in which Holden is not alone, he wants to be. The reason for this is that Holden is uncomfortable unless he is by himself. So when Holden pays for a prostitute in his hotel room and she comes and invades Holden’s personal space, Holden asks her to leave because his solitude is being invaded. Another example of Holden’s isolation is when Holden said this about his experience in the museum, “That’s the whole trouble. You can’t ever find a place that’s nice and peaceful because there isn’t any.” (Salinger 204) In this quote, Holden expresses his feelings of isolation that he has in his world. Holden is saying is that he feels very uncomfortable in his life that he is living which means he has become secluded from it. One reason for Holden’s isolation may be because he lost his brother, who was probably his closest friend in his childhood. When Allie, his brother, died, Holden lost the comfort of Allie’s friendship and thus Holden isolated himself from the world because Allie was not in his world anymore. Holden also shows isolation from the world because in one part of the novel he suggests going to Maine or Massachusetts and living in isolation from the rest of the world with Sally. In this novel, Holden never grows up to be honest, yet all around him, Holden’s peers are growing up. Holden constantly is acting just like a child. It isn’t surprising that the only people Holden connects with in the entire novel are children. An example of how Holden acts like a child is when he meets with an old friend of his named Carl Luce who he knew from his old school. When Carl and he met, Holden immediately starts asking adolescent questions about sex to Carl Luce like Holden used to a few years ago. This part of the novel is when we really begin to see how separated Holden is from his peers because of his attitude of never growing up. The reason for Holden’s Peter Pan attitude of never wanting to grow up is because of Allie’s death. “I’m seventeen now, but sometimes I still feel like I’m thirteen.” (Bloom 132). Holden is telling us that the reason he is so immature sometimes is because when Allie died, Holden’s emotional life stops, leaving Holden as a juvenile teenager who is afraid to grow up. Holden’s...
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