What Is The Theme Of Isolation In Catcher In The Rye

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Imagine a world where nobody lets you in, and you can’t feel connected despite your best efforts. This is what Holden Caulfield experiences in The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. Holden can’t find or reach the connections he wants because the other people in his life won’t let him in, and Holden pushes people away when he doesn’t feel safe from himself and the outside world. Throughout the book, Holden feels depressed. This is the result of isolation and alienation affecting Holden by not letting him reach the people he cares for, being disconnected, and giving up.
Holden demonstrates isolation and alienation when he is unable to get in touch with the few people he feels a connection with. Holden doesn’t have many people who he feels
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Holden tries to form relationships with people, but he isn’t included within the “social norm” created by the other people in his life and around him. Holden has just gotten into a fight with his roommate Stradlater after his date with Holden’s old neighbor, Jane Gallagher. In this quote, Holden is trying to sleep in Ackley’s room in the empty bed: “Then I laid down on Ely’s bed again. ‘What’re you gonna do--sleep in Ely’s bed?’ [...] ‘Relax. I’m not gonna sleep here. I wouldn’t abuse your goddamn hospitality’” (49). When Holden “[lays] down in Ely’s bed” he knows that he isn’t in his own bed, but someone else's. Holden wants to belong in “Ely’s bed,” because he wants to be more connected. However, Holden is rejected from the empty bed, even though no one is physically blocking him. By Holden saying he “wouldn’t abuse [Ackley’s] goddam hospitality,” he’s saying that he knows he isn’t welcomed but still tries anyway. This takes a mental toll on Holden because he isn’t in the right mind state, to begin with, let alone after being rejected. Holden already struggles with depression created by himself and everything around him, and this refusal to let him in hurts Holden more than he wants to admit. Since being excluded has become normal or usual for Holden, he begins to give up as he starts to believe he will never be …show more content…
He has already given up on the world and everyone else, and in consequence is feeling more alone than ever before. Holden is in his parent's house because he wanted to visit his sister Phoebe, but he has to sneak out of his parent house before his parents catch him: “For one thing, I didn’t give much of a damn any more if they caught me. I really didn’t. I figured if they caught me, they caught me. I almost wished they did, in a way,” (180). When Holden is trying to get out of his parent's house he is beginning to feel tired of fighting and running away. Holden runs away from situations he doesn’t feel safe in or doesn’t want to get involved with, which makes his mental stability questionable. Holden has previously shown alarming signs of depression, but this time he just wants to feel safe. At this point, Holden doesn’t “give much of a damn anymore” because he just wants to be accepted. In a way, Holden “almost wish[es]” that they’d catch him so that he can be recognized for something memorable. Holden wants to be accepted and he thinks that getting people’s attention is the best way to do it, even if that means breaking some rules. Thus far, Holden has embodied isolation and alienation through his character development of

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