The Real Holden in the Catcher in the Rye
Catcher in the Rye, Holden feels isolated partly because he lives in such a confined circle. All his schoolmates are rich, privileged kids with narrow worldviews, but, ironically, he’s also too rich and privileged to connect with anyone who isn’t like him. Holden’s recurring quality is that he is isolating himself from society as a whole. Throughout the book, as Holden meets people, he seems to push them away. However, in reality, he’s pushing himself away. The first example we see in the book of Holden isolating himself is at the football game. It’s a Saturday afternoon, the whole school is at the game and he is alone. “Anyway, it was the Saturday of the football game.
I remember around 3 o’clock that afternoon I was standing way the hell up on the top of Thomsen Hill (Salinger, pg.2). In the passage, you can see that while everyone is down at the game which he mentions “is the most important” since it’s “the last game of the season” he was on the hill watching from afar. So, if something is really important, most of the time people would make themselves attend these events, but in Holden’s case he doesn’t. He doesn’t because he thinks everyone is phony and everyone is fake. Which leads to Holden trying to call someone when he got of at Penn Station after leaving Pencey Prep. “The first thing I did when I got off at Penn Station, I went into a phone booth. I felt like giving someone a buzz. …, but as soon as I was inside, I couldn’t think of anybody to call up. (Salinger, pg. 59)” Holden says that when he got to Penn Station he felt like “giving somebody a buzz”, but when he’d think of someone he’d then proceed to shut the idea out, by saying “but I didn’t feel like it” especially when it came to Jane, even though it’s clear that he really did care about her seeing that he got so mad about Stradlater’s date with her.
Although she was the only person he’s shown Allie’s glove to. He talks about calling her throughout the book but he always finds an excuse not to call her. When he does and her mom answers he just hangs up, he doesn’t bother asking if she’s there. He says that’s because he isn’t crazy about talking to moms, as he says he is. But in reality he sees people in the adult world as phonies, which means if he starts, or continues his relationship with Jane, he too would be considered a phony, which would change the whole story. The reason for Holden’s isolation is how much the death of his brother Allie affected him. Even though its been 3 years since his death Holden still hasn’t recovered.
Holden reveals that on the night of his death he broke all the windows of the garage. Even then it’s obvious that Holden was deeply affected by it and that he feels like it was unfair for him to die so young. Although he doesn’t do things like that anymore he’s clearly still very bothered by it. He mostly just cries now. Throughout the book Holden tries to make friends, while at the same time isolating himself by calling everyone phony. He doesn’t really want to connect to them, they are phonies because they’ve been exposed to the world, unlike Allie. He mentions multiple times that he likes children and talking to children, he doesn’t think kids are phony, or even the nuns, maybe because they’re more pure, and at the age that Allie died well he never experienced anything from the adult world, or lost his innocence. He admits that it bothers him that Allie died while everyone gets to keep living, growing and experiencing things. “That’s what nearly drove me crazy. All the visitors could get in their cars and turn on their radios and all and then go someplace nice for dinner-everybody except for Allie.”
A reason that he can’t connect with anyone else is because he feels like it wasn’t fair that Allie died, especially so young, and it bothers him that other people get to keep going. Holden also talks aloud to himself, but directed to Allie a lot. That’s the only person he Connects to in a sense. Like when he’s crossing 5th avenue, he feels as if Allie is protecting him “Then all of the sudden, something very spooky started happening. Every time I came to the end of a block and stepped off the goddamn curb, I had this feeling that I’d never get to the other side of the street. I thought I’d just go down, down, down, and nobody’d see me again. … Then I started doing something else. Every time I’d get to the end of a block I’d make believe I was talking to my brother Allie. I’d say to him “Allie, don’t let me disappear. Allie, don’t let me disappear. Allie, don’t let me disappear. Please, Allie.” And then when I’d reach the other side of the street without disappearing, I’d thank him.” He also admitted that he’d often talk to him out loud when he felt depressed. Allie made him feel better.
Another reason that Holden can’t connect to others due to Allie’s death is that he is too busy in his own little world wanting to be the Catcher in the Rye to be able to think about anything else. That’s all he really wants to do. Save others (Children) because he couldn’t save someone as special and innocent as Allie. He says “I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be.” When Holden was in the Hotel he admitted that whenever he felt depressed, he liked to talk aloud to Allie. He says “What I did, I started talking, sort of out loud, to Allie. I do that sometimes when I get very depressed. I keep telling him to go home and get his bike and meet me in front of Bobby Fallon’s house. ” He keeps thinking about the ONE time that he didn’t take Allie with him, he tells him to meet him there now because he feels bad about saying no to him. Allie meant a lot to Holden.
A traumatic incident such as the death of a loved one can cause a person to divert others and isolate themselves without even knowing it. Everything always goes back to Allie, Holden seems to want to make friends, but the way he thinks now due to his death doesn’t allow him, he seems to like kids only because like Allie, they aren’t “Phony”.
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