Americans today tend to believe that normalcy is expected, while individuality is often rejected. Throughout the novel The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. by J.D. Salinger, the author exposes the reader to the character Holden and his tale of coming of age. Holden wants to keep his life simple with his own individuality by not conforming to what society considers normal. Even though society expects people to behave in a "correct way", personality and individuality play an important role in allowing oneself to learn from the decisions and actions one may make in life.
According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, conformity means the actions that replicate the acts of the majority of people in a society or group; the condition of obeying or agreeing with. Throughout The Catcher in the Rye, Holden faces situations that force him to make his own decisions. He often rejects making a decision based off what others believe is correct. For example, Holden buys a hat but does not wear it the way someone would usually wear one. In chapter three, Holden states, “The way I wore it, I swung the old peak way around to the back—very corny, I’ll admit it, but I liked it that way. I looked good in it that way” (Salinger 17-18). This is one of the many times Holden decides to do something because he enjoys it a certain way, instead of the conforming to society’s standards.
According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word individualism means the desires of each person appear more significant than the desires of every person in a society or a group. Holden exemplifies the idea of individualism with his judgments towards the previous prep schools he attended and the people who went there. In chapter four Holden states, “Pencey was full of crooks. Quite a few guys came from these very wealthy families, but it was all full of crooks anyway. The more expensive a school is, the more crooks it has—I’m not kidding” (4). Holden expresses his feelings towards the people that attend the prep school in a blunt way. He makes it known that anyone who goes to a prep school must emerge from a wealthy family or be a crook. Holden acknowledges that he functions much different from the other boys by often breaking rules and skipping class.
Throughout the novel, conformity is exemplified through the characters actions. Holden repeatedly converses about life in prep schools and how those who attend must be phonies. During the 1950’s, private prep schools for boys and girls had an intense rate of pressures to conform (Literature and its Times 74). In prep schools students are expected to follow a schedule that had set times to eat, play sports, go to class, and sleep (74). However, Holden does not conform to following rules or set time schedule. The thought of doing the same things as everyone else in his school does not appeal to him, so he gives up on trying in hopes of not having to go back to another prep school. Consequently, Holden attends various prep schools that he either flunks out...