The Catcher in the Rye Essay

Submitted By Jo017
Words: 1021
Pages: 5

In society, there are many set standards that are accepted by the general population. As shown in J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, the refusal to follow societal norms lead to depression. Through Holden Caulfield, Salinger shows that refusing society’s standards can also lead to isolation. Holden is left unable to relate with his peers even though they attempt to bolster his social skills. In his struggle to enter the world of adulthood, he is unable to follow the convention of this new reality. Holden sees the world he is entering as phony and superficial compared to the simplicity of childhood. Holden is a perfect example of a teenage misfit on the edge of a mental breakdown.
Holden isolates himself from the rest of society which leads him to many mental health issues. On many occasions he tries to call some of his friends but doesn’t do it because “[he] didn’t feel like it” (Salinger 59). His hesitation to reach out for some help is greatly linked to his judgemental attitude. As it is said in the novel The Great Gatsby "Whenever you feel like criticizing any one ... just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had" (Fitzegerald5); but Holden openly judges the people around him without knowing them. Although the young man is trying to connect to someone – anyone – during his time in the city, his critical behaviour stops him from doing so. The young man does not have anyone or anywhere to go. By saying "I got a cab outside the hotel, but I didn't have the faintest damn idea where I was going. I had no place to go" Holden admits to himself that he cannot go anywhere (Salinger 139). Although Holden chooses to ignore many facts about himself and the people around him, the fact that he is lonely and has nowhere to go is so obvious that he cannot ignore it. If Holden would not be so judgemental of the society in which he lives he would be able to connect with people and he would not be in this situation.
Holden is entering the new world of adulthood. As he is leaving the world of childhood, he sees a lot of aspects of society that he does not like. As it is said in Tom’s poem “Individual vs. Society”, Holden “wanted to resist. But they [were] more and [he was] alone”. He refuses to follow the convention of this new world and therefore is unable to move on with his life. Although it is easy to draw the conclusion that Holden is scared to grow old and die because of his obsession with death, his statement that “certain things should stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone” shows that he is more afraid of change (Salinger 122). Although the world of adulthood scares him, he refuses to acknowledge this fear, expressing it only in a few instances – for example when he talks about sex and admits that “sex is something I just don’t understand. I swear to God I don’t” (63). When Holden goes to the carousel with his little sister Phoebe, Holden states that “The thing with kids is, if they want to grab for the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and not pay anything. If they fall off, they fall off, but it's bad if you say anything to them” (211). Through this statement, Holden comes to an epiphany. He realizes that he cannot reach his dream of becoming the “Catcher in the Rye”. He will not be able to stop children from reaching the “phoniness” of the adult world. This shows that he has progressed through the novel although he refused to come to this conclusion before. His rejection of the convention has led to many negative effects but he finally came to the conclusion that he could not help others to live the way he did.
Holden also