The Catcher In The Rye: The Nature Of Societal And Individual Interdependency

2018 words - 8 pages

In a perfect world, everyone would be happy with the way they are and everyone would accept the differences of others. Unfortunately, the world we live in is not perfect and not everyone accepts who they are . Is there a reason why people cannot be content with their lives or with the differences of other people? The answer is yes, and the reason for the discontent is society. With society telling the masses what is, and is not acceptable, it is no wonder that people seem "lost", and are desperately searching out their place in the sun. This search for identity seems to be the case in JD Salinger's novel, The Catcher in the Rye. Through settings in the novel and symbolism, Salinger illustrates that while the main character, Holden Caulfield, needs the support of the environment around him, the environment also needs Holden as a person. Holden Caulfield is out of place in any environment in which he is placed. At Pencey, his school, Holden gets excluded from the activities of his classmates. At the very beginning of the novel, Holden becomes expelled because his grades are not up to Pencey's standards and also because he does not feel like he belongs there. Holden separates himself from his classmates for the most part by not becoming involved in the school. Although Holden is the equipment manager of the fencing team, he distances himself from his companions by losing the equipment, showing that he does not fit in, and he really does not want to. As he reflects back on his final day at Pencey he says: " They kicked me out. ...I was flunking four subjects and not applying myself at all. They gave me frequent warnings to start applying myself...but I didn't do it" (Salinger 4). The school is throwing Holden out because he is not what they want to represent to potential students. They want to show examples of fine, upstanding young men, instead of giving off the image of the failing, confused young man. Salinger uses Pencey as a mock society of some sorts. Holden does not fit in at Pencey, and he most definitely does not fit in as seen in the later settings of the novel. A second example of Holden's isolation from his classmates can also be seen when he stands alone on the top of the hill during the "big game". During the football game Holden perches himself above the football field where he can hear the cheering, but he cannot see the crowd. Holden says that he hears the yelling because "practically the whole school except me was there" (Salinger 2). Holden's isolation from his classmates may be his own doing to some extent, however there is another force at work here. The high standards of good grades and involvement in other activities separate Holden from the rest of his school. Holden never really makes the effort to fit in at Pencey because he knows that it is just a made up society, and that it, like the other settings in the novel is just another place that he does not belong. The Pencey setting in the novel rejects Holden because of his...

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