Theme Of Selfishness In Catcher In The Rye

Decent Essays
In a world where the homeless are looked down upon because of their social status, human selfishness makes it challenging for many to trust and confide in others. J.D. Salinger, the author of The Catcher in the Rye, suffered from P.T.S.D due to trauma from his time serving in the U.S. army during World War 2 (Gopnik 2013). After the war, J.D. Salinger immersed himself in his work and wrote The Catcher in the Rye. Salinger, in midst of his fame, strayed away from doing public appearances and being in the public eye (Gopnik 2011). During his lifetime, Salinger witnessed the brutality and consequences of war, and as a result, he saw how cruel society could be. In a time of war, many individuals commit careless actions that prove to be harmful …show more content…
An example of conflict that is used is the person versus society conflict. Throughout the novel, Holden finds himself in quarrels with others because of his disdain for society. Holden maintains a consistent, and rather pessimistic tone during the course of the story. In reference to life, Holden remarks that it is “some game. If [one is] on the side where all the hot-shots are, then it 's a game, all right— [he’ll] admit that. But if [one is] on the other side, where there aren’t any hot-shots, then what 's a game about it? Nothing. No game” (Salinger 12). It is evident that Holden identifies himself with being on the “other side”, which is the losing team. Holden has wealthy parents, goes to a credible school, and has a sister who dearly loves him. In spite of that, Holden still maintains a negative view of society. Holden’s careless outlook on life results in him being in strained relationships with others. It is important for Holden to break free of his victim mentality, and be more empathetic and kind to others, because without change, he cannot progress as a character. Moreover, another conflict used is the person versus self conflict. The biggest conflict that Holden faces in the novel is with himself. During the course of the novel, Holden constantly contradicts himself and is shown to have an inability in regards …show more content…
An example of a motif that demonstrates the carelessness of humans is the motif of deception. In the novel, Holden constantly repeats the word “phony”. It is notable that in Holden’s eyes, all adults are considered phony, while all children and adolescents are considered genuine. Oddly enough, it could be argued that Holden himself, is a phony. Holden is not exempt from his fair share of lies and deceit— when Holden ran into Ernest’s mom on the train, she talked about how Ernest was sensitive. According to Holden, “that guy Morrow (Ernest) was about as sensitive as a goddam toilet seat” (Salinger 72). Holden knew that Ernest’s mom was deceiving herself, yet he still allowed her to ramble on. Holden loves to point out the flaws in others, but cannot admit to his own faults. Holden shows no remorse for his actions, and is inconsiderate towards the situations of others. Holden’s selfish mentality is common in today’s society, and ascertains the need for a positive change in society’s demeanour. In addition, a motif that is used in this novel is the motif of isolation. Holden is a rather introverted and isolated individual. In the novel, there is indication that Holden is lonely, but does not realize that he is at fault for his own isolation. When Holden got off “at Penn Station, [he] went into this phone

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