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How does Salinger create the theme of Individuality

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How does Salinger create the theme of Individuality? Cameron Bloomfield In J. D. Salinger's book, Catcher in the Rye, the protagonist, Holden Caulfield, is very much an individual. Not because of a brilliant charisma or charming confidence, as if he can afford to act the individual because of the masses that follow him, but because he alienates himself from the majority of society. Throughout the book we examples of reason how Holden is an individual. Towards the beginning of the book, after Holden has found out he is to be expelled from Pencey, he visits Mr. Spencer, his History teacher. In his chat with Mr. Spencer, or 'old Spence' as Holden refers to him, he says to Mr. Spencer that he 'feels trapped on the other side' of life. In this extract alone, one can find two examples of Holden as an alienated member of his current society, Pencey. The first is that he feels trapped. This shows Holden admitting that he is excluded and victimised by the world around him. ...read more.


One of the ways he protects and alienates himself is by using the word 'phony'. A lot of the time, this is used to describe characters in the adult world that are successful or popular, things that he isn't. This is a way that he covers up his jealousy for the people that have managed to achieve in life. One of the examples of this is again towards the beginning of the book where he talks about how actors and films are phony. Actors are possibly the most popular and influential in the world and films, one of the biggest sources of entertainment in modern life. For Holden to say that they are 'phony' sets him apart from a very large proportion of Western society and therefore he becomes the minority and the individual. Lying and deception are the most obvious and hurtful elements of phoniness. But lying to others is also a kind of phoniness, a type of deception that indicates insensitivity, callousness, or even cruelty. ...read more.


The red hunting hat is one of the most recognisable symbols from twentieth-century American literature. It is indispensable from our image of Holden, with good reason: it is a symbol of his uniqueness and individuality. The hat is outlandish, and it shows that Holden desires to be different from everyone around him. At the same time, he is very self-conscious about the hat-he always mentions when he is wearing it, and he often doesn't wear it if he is going to be around people he knows. The presence of the hat, therefore, mirrors the central conflict in the book: Holden's need for isolation versus his need for companionship. Incidentally, the hat's color, red, is actually the same as that of Allie's and Phoebe's hair. Perhaps Holden associates it with the innocence and purity he believes these characters represent and wears it as a way to connect to them. He never explicitly comments on the hat's significance other than to mention its unusual appearance. This example is different to all the others as this is an example of Holden trying to be different and achieving whereas the rest are examples of him alienating ostracising himself from society. ...read more.

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