November 12, 2012
English period 7
“The Catcher and the Rye” Essay on Themes
In J.D. Salinger’s novel, The Catcher in the Rye, the theme of self-perceived outsiders alienating themselves as a form of protection is expressed by the protagonist, Holden. While Holden is conversing with Stradlater about his date with Jane Gallagher, a childhood friend of Holden, Stradlater suggests that Holden go to see her before the date. However, Holden refuses claiming that he is “not in the mood” (33). Holden’s dismissal of Stradlater’s proposal is quite surprising considering that he himself continuously wondered whether or not he should visit with Gallagher. Essentially, Holden avoids meeting with Jane because he is afraid of seeing how his friend from the might have changed since he last saw her. By not going to see Jane, Holden is protecting his memory of the girl he once knew and saving himself from being hurt by what she might have become. Later in the novel, while Holden is at Penn Station he has the desire to phone someone, anyone, but decides against it. Holden’s excuse for not calling anyone is that he “couldn’t think of anyone” (59). Admittedly, there are by no means a staggering number of friends he could call, but it is ultimately his decision not to contact anyone. Holden desperately wants intimate, human interaction but his resentment towards people causes him to make excuses in order to evade them. Isolation is one of Holden’s most prominent weaknesses; he believes that his evasion of the people around him will protect himself, when in reality it only serves to his inevitable self-destruction.
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