Loneliness in The Catcher in The Rye (persuasive essay)

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Research Based Literary Essay:

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Loneliness is a feeling in which people experience a strong sense of emptiness and solitude. Someone who is lonely may find it hard to form relationships because they are unable to socialize. In The Catcher in the Rye, the main character, Holden Caulfield, is surrounded by people who he can form relationships with. However, Holden fails to form relationships, because he chooses to alienate himself from everyone else. He is not willing to become a part of the environment around him, because he thinks he is different. In The Catcher in the Rye, J.D Salinger effectively develops the theme of loneliness through the use of suspense by emphasizing three facts; Holden has no place to go after three days of travelling, he has lost his connection to all of his friends, and he has forgotten about morals and being nice.

After Holden is expelled from his school, he has to find somewhere to stay for three days, because that is when his parents are expecting him to come home. This creates suspense by letting the reader read the whole novel and think that he will find a proper place to go, such as a friend’s house. However, even though one would think that he would find a place in three days, he ends up going from one hotel to another. Once again, this creates suspense, because he keeps attempting to call someone and ask if he can stay, but he always fails to do so. He even admits to himself that he cannot go anywhere, by saying “I got a cab outside the hotel, but I didn’t have the faintest damn idea where I was going. I had no place to go.” (Salinger 139). Throughout the novel, Holden denies to accept facts about himself and the people around him, but this fact is so obvious that he cannot ignore it.

Another reason why Holden does not have anywhere to go is because he does not feel comfortable around people who he is not close to. That is a big problem, because he can never feel close to anyone, since he thinks he is different. A theme that appears throughout the novel is not touching things or people, because Holden thinks they are innocent. Therefore, Holden develops a rule of not touching things. When Holden runs out of money, the only place he can go to is his old teacher, Mr. Antolini’s house. Mr. Antolini cares a lot about Holden and tries to help him. An academic author, Yasuhiro Takeuchi, further examines Holden’s rule by stating that, “Mr. Antolini suspects that Holden is about to experience a fall… and he literally reaches out to Holden, but fails in his attempt to catch him.” (Yasuhiro Takeuchi, Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, Literature Resource Center). Naturally, to catch someone, one must directly touch them. When Mr. Antolini touches Holden to catch him, he breaks Holden’s rule of not touching. Holden gets very nervous and angry at Mr. Antolini, and he shows his anger by yelling “What the hellya doing?” (Salinger 249). He then thinks to himself, “…boy, was I nervous! ... and they’re always being pervert when I’m around.” (249). Mr. Antolini’s action is due to his thoughtfulness, but Holden’s reaction is to take it the wrong way. This event causes Holden to leave Mr. Antolini’s house, which leaves the reader full of suspense, because Mr. Antolini was Holden’s last place to go to.

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After Holden leaves Mr. Antolini’s house, the only place that he can try to sleep is the train station. This creates a lot of suspense, because Holden has not slept well in a long time, and he is worried about himself as well. “What made it even worse, my eyes were sore as hell. They felt all sore and burny from not getting too much sleep.” (253). At this point, he has absolutely no place to go. He must sleep but he cannot. This is also one of the themes in The Catcher in the Rye, Holden’s emotional decline. An ...

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