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The Catcher In The Rye [Isolation]

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Introduction

The novel "The Catcher in the Rye" by J. D. Salinger is a novel, which centres around the theme of isolation. This study will examine this theme, along with the writer's use of characterisation and setting, which help to convey the character's eventual break down. "The Catcher in the Rye" is a personal account told by Holden Caulfield, the narrator of the book. He recalls a weekend of his life from a psychiatric hospital, and throughout gives off an impression of his loneliness, and isolation from society. We see everything through Holden's eyes, and so he cannot always be said to be a reliable narrator, however we still see him to have problems and so there is still room for an outside perspective. Throughout the novel, Holden shows feelings of alienation. He says he feels trapped "on the other side" of life, and generally doesn't feel he fits in with the world around him. He finds interaction with other people confusing and difficult, and so makes out to himself that he is above interacting with other people, and almost superior to anyone else around him. ...read more.

Middle

He tells the woman on the train that he is the school janitor because he "didn't feel like giving her his whole life history," and he says himself that he is a compulsive liar, "the most terrific liar one could meet." Throughout the book though, it is unclear whether people actually believe him, and so his deceitfulness and lies could be seen to simply help his own self-delusion, and be another part of him not understanding who he is. As Holden cannot fully accept that he is maturing, and becoming an adult, he doesn't appear to really know who he is. He seems to be trying to find himself in the story, and is looking for direction in life. We see this when he asks people several times where the ducks fly away to in the winter. This shows that he is searching for a way to lead his life, but is not sure where to go from his current situation. ...read more.

Conclusion

Holden does not finish the story, but ends it here, only going on to say that he is now in the hospital. While in the hospital it seems that he has had time to reflect on what happened to him, and possibly think about who he is as a person. After inventing his own fantasy of adulthood, full of superficiality, he must realise that all of his presumptions are not necessarily true and that he himself has been behaving in an unrealistic manner. The character of Holden could be seen simply as a troubled teenager, however it is made more believable that the character does in fact have mental problems, having ended up in a psychiatric ward. "The Catcher in the Rye" raises issues of isolation and how Holden as a young individual deals with it. J.D. Salinger expresses very well how the character struggles to cope with life; its effects on him and the way he ends up, using the technique of setting and the development of Holden as a character. ...read more.

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