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Jenn Jackson Ms. Cailes 25/07/2011 The Self Alienation of Holden Cauleld ! The most difcult obstacles to overcome are often the ones that people create for

themselves. The Catcher in the Rye, written by J.D. Salinger, follows a young Holden Cauleld as he travels from Pencey Prep school to New York City, after being expelled because of his inadequate grades. When he arrives in New York, Holden nds himself shockingly alone and depressed. Despite his desire to nd companionship, Holden makes several decisions that are counterproductive in nding himself company which results in his alienation. Holden Caulelds elitist nature, dishonest tendencies and his resistance to relinquish the past have rendered him unable to form meaningful relationships with other people, thus alienating himself. ! Holdens self-alienation is partially due to his elitist nature. He is very judgemental of

people, openly criticises them and refuses to associate with people he does not deem t of his company. By being so selective of his companions, Holden has few, if any, close friends. Without any close meaningful relationships, Holden has become very isolated and has essentially made himself an outcast. While at the theatre with Sally, Holden criticises the other viewers by saying; You never saw so many phonies in all your life (Salinger 126). Holden saw all of the other people viewing the show as fake because of how they were discussing the performance during the break. He made a wide generalisation of the entire group of people based on a single impression. By jumping to conclusions about people so quickly, Holden shows how he is an elitist and is not willing to take the time to open up and accept new people into his life. On another occasion, Holden makes grotesque assumptions about Ossengburger, a man who made generous

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donations to Pencey Prep school. The only encounter Holden had with him was when Ossenburger gave a speech at a Pencey football game. After hearing his speech Holden labelled him as a Jesus loving big phoney bastard (17). This crude assumption shows how Holden is extremely critical of peoples words and actions because he lacks the necessary empathy to form genuine relationships. During his time at Pencey, Holden expressed a very strong distaste for almost everyone there for no valid reason, including the principal. In one instance Holden refers to him as a phoney slob (3). This highly biased reference to an authoritative person as a slob, coming from someone who should hold a certain degree of respect towards them, shows how Holden considers himself to be superior to anyone who he sees as phoney. Throughout the story, Holden hastily forms unsubstantiated opinions and displays a lack of respect towards others which results in his isolating himself and removing opportunities to connect with other members of society. ! Holden creates barriers between himself and the people he associates with by misleading

them with his fake personas. The alienation Holden experiences is largely a result of his inability to be completely honest and sincere with other people. When Holden interacts with people, what he says and how be presents himself is usually ridden with lies and falsications. This habit prevents Holden from letting people understand who he truly is, and likewise from letting Holden truly understand other people. In a literary essay by Joyce Rowe, she puts it quite well, saying; Holdens continuous need to defend himself from the encroachments of others generates the verbal disguise he uses to ctionalise all his encounters enabling him to distance himself (Rowe 4). Holden uses these tactics in his encounters with Old Spencer and Mrs. Morrow. During the time Holden spends with Old Spencer, Holden feeds him lies, or shooting the bull as he calls it, because he thinks that it is the only way to make Old Spencer feel better.

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Although Old Spencer seems to genuinely care about Holden, Holden is unable to reciprocate this compassion because of the chronic lying that he uses in social situations to distance himself from his company. With Mrs. Morrow, Holden assumes a different persona and lies outright to her about his opinions of her son. In doing so, he deceives and misguides from what is true about her son as well as who Holden really is. When Holden falsies himself like this, he is pushing other people away simultaneously as he disconnects himself from who he really is. Should Holden continue to rely on false identities to deal with social encounters, he will lose the ability to express his true personality and to appreciate real interactions with people. Holden hides himself behind a wall of lies whenever he has situations where he has to interact with people. By creating this barrier he uses to protect himself, he is actually causing more harm by shutting himself off from the world and further alienating himself. ! Throughout the story, Holden expresses an unwillingness to let go of his past

relationships. This hinders his ability to move forward and make new ones. The traumatic emotions that Holden experienced when his brother, Allie, died may have been what triggered Holden to cling onto how things used to be rather than growing up and moving on with his life. Holden shares his appreciation for museums and their timelessness in the novel, saying; Nobodyd move Nobodyd be different. The only thing that would be different would be you. Not that youd be so much older or anything Youd just be different, thats all (Salinger 121). This exert reveals Holdens fascination with how time can stand still with nothing changing. The concept carries over to Holdens social life where he strongly prefers his innocent childhood memories of his past relationships with Allie and Jane over the prospect of forming new ones. He values these memories as an ideal, to which any new relationships or situations he experiences are weighed against, but with no real hope of being deemed worthwhile in comparison to his

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pristine innocent childhood reveries. In Holdens mind, there is nothing in his future that could ever surpass or equal what his life used to be like and the people he used to have as companions. As a result, any time that Holden is presented with opportunities to form new relationships he does not see them as being worth his time and will push them away without any consideration. The childhood memories that Holden holds so close have left him committed to a hopeless vision that makes all the more acute his disgust with the actual (Rowe 2). Holdens clinging onto the past is what is causing his discontent and alienation in the present. The result of Holden refusing to accept the present is that he will continue to live in his past, shrouded by his memories while he subjects himself to a future of alienation. ! Holdens self-alienation, due to being highly critical of others, his deceitfulness, and living

in the past rather than the present, has become the greatest obstacle for him. When Holden judges people he looks down on them, as if he is superior, and evaluates whether or not it is worthwhile to associate with them. Holden also lies to people to create what he sees as a protective barrier to shield his true self, when actually he is depriving himself of meaningful interactions. The other cause of Holdens self-alienation comes as a result of his desire to continue to live in his past with the people he used to know, rather than living with the people currently around him. Holdens self-alienation in this story comes in the wake of his critical judgment of others, his lies and the reveries he immerses himself in.

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Works Cited Salinger, JD. The Catcher in the Rye. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1951. Rowe, Joyce. Holden Cauleld and American Protest. Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Jeffery ! W. Hunter. Vol. 138. Detroit: Gale Group, 2001. Print.