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Analysis of Crucial Elements in Catcher in the Rye

Analysis of Crucial Elements in Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye is an in depth allegory where characters and objects stand for larger and more profound things. In the novel, many human ideals are themed and represented. The protagonist, Holden Caulfield, encounters many different thoughts and principles that vary from person to person. The themes, motifs, and symbols here, play out to be like real life: nothing is perfect, and nothing is what it seems.

One of the major themes in The Catcher in the Rye is alienation. Holden is excluded and victimized by the world that he lives in. He says he feels trapped on “the other side” of life. He strives to find means to protect himself. He makes himself unique and distinct from the rest of the world.

Holden’s alienation causes most of his pain and problems. He never gets to the “root” of his problems and never addresses his emotions thoroughly. One quote that can be attributed to his feelings of alienation and loneliness is found in Chapter 6:

“For Chrissake, Holden. This is about a goddam baseball glove.” (Stradlater)
After Stradlater says this, we come to realize that he ridicules more than Holden’s paper, he unknowingly ridicules Holden’s deceased brother, Allie, the owner of the glove. This hurts Holden greatly, and adds the need for Holden to alienate himself from people.

Isolation is also played out in The Catcher in the Rye. Holden often finds himself alone and without people to associate with. When he does associate with people, he seems to find that they are “phonies” and tries to find any means of ridding himself of these individuals.

His loneliness compels him to go on a date with Salley Hayes, yet, his need to be alone, “to isolate himself,” leads him to be rude to her. Yet again, he gets what he wants: to be alone.

“Childhood vs. Adulthood” is another major theme that is played out in The Catcher in the Rye. This novel is a bildungsroman; it is a novel about a young protagonist’s growth into maturity. Holden wants everything to be understandable and to last forever. He is frightened because he commits the same “sins” as others and he cannot get a better grasp of what to do to be different....

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