Essay about Catcher in the Rye

Submitted By uniquesora
Words: 654
Pages: 3

The novel, Catcher in the Rye, shows the ability to capture and portray a person’s most inner thoughts explicitly through the eyes of Holden Caulfield. Through the course of the novel there is a constant theme of alienation as a form of self-protection from the world. Holden conversation with Spencer in Chapter 2, “Life is a game boy. Life is a game that one plays according to the rules.’ ’Yes Sir. I know it.’ Game, my ass. Some game. If you get on the side where all the hot-shots are, then it’s a game, all right—I’ll admit that. But if you get on the other side, where there aren’t any hot-shots, then what’s a game about it? Nothing. No game.” His former teacher, Spencer, is needling him about his failures at Pencey prep school. He lectures Holden about the importance of playing by the rules. In this conversation we learn the key aspects of Holden’s characteristics. We see how alienated Holden feels. He identifies with those on the “other side” of the game, and he feels isolated and victimized, as though the world is against him. Holden’s sense of disadvantage and corresponding bitterness seem somewhat strange, given that he’s a bright boy from a privileged New York family. As the story progresses, however, we learn that Holden has built a cynical psychological self-protecting armor from against the complications of the world. Holden wears his hunting hat to advertise his uniqueness, he uses his isolation as proof that he is better than the people around him and therefore above interacting with them. The readers can see that Holden’s alienation is the cause of most of his pain. He never really addresses his own emotions directly, nor does he attempt to try and discover the source of his problems. He desperately needs human contact and love, but his protective wall of bitterness prevents him from looking for this interaction. Holden depends upon his alienation, but it destroys him as a result. “Phoniness,” is a constant phrase in the novel, and is one of Holden’s favorite concepts. It’s his catch phrase for describing the worthlessness, two-faced, pretension, and shallowness that he encounters in the world around him. In Chapter 22, “….I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everyone 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…