Alienation In Catcher In The Rye

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In the novel, The Catcher in The Rye, the protagonist Holden Caufield seems to be excluded from and victimized by the world around him. As he says to his professor Mr. Spencer, he feels trapped on “the other side” of life, and he continually attempts to find his way in a world in which he feels he doesn’t belong. This alienation is both the source of Holden’s strength and the source of his problems. Part of Holden’s alienation is a result of his inability, or perhaps unwillingness, to grow up. Like a child, Holden fears change and is overwhelmed by complexity, but he is too out of touch with his feelings to admit it. Instead, he spends much of his time criticizing others. Ironically, he is often guilty of the sins he criticizes in others. Holden is clearly fearful of adulthood, but instead of acknowledging that it scares and mystifies him, he condemns it, claiming that adulthood is a world of superficiality, hypocrisy, and “phoniness.” Whereas, childhood, on the other hand, is a world of innocence, curiosity, and honesty. He explains that adults are inevitably phonies, and, what’s worse, they can’t see their own phoniness. Phoniness, for Holden, stands as an emblem of everything that’s wrong in the world around him and provides an excuse for him to withdraw into his cynical isolation, a defense mechanism to help him deal with his loneliness. Holden expends much of his energy searching for phoniness in others, yet at the same time, while he is a self-admitted compulsive liar, he never acknowledges his own phoniness. This is not only ironic, but hypocritical, since phoniness is what Holden claims to detest more than anything else in the world. Holden is further hypocritical because while decrying the abhorrent nature of adulthood, he spends much of his energy trying to behave like an adult, as evidenced by his actions such as hiring a prostitute, spending money

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