The Catcher in the Rye: Analyze the following theme: Alienation as a form of self-protection.

1 Answer | Add Yours

literaturenerd's profile pic

literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

In the novel The Catcher in the Rye, Holden continually self-alienates himself from the rest of society. There are multiple times throughout the novel where his actions are the direct cause of people being "turned off" to him.

For example, while he joins the fencing team, as the manager, he forgets the foils. One could see that Holden does this to, essentially, remove him from being associated with the team. In another place in the novel, Holden picks fights with his roommate and his neighboring roommate.

Holden's self-alienation is the product of his desire to protect himself. He believes that everyone in the world are "phonies," in one way or another. His behaviors are constantly separating him from those around him as an act of self-protection. For me, it seems that he, himself, does not want to be labeled as a phony through association with those around him. Therefore, in order to protect himself, he pulls away from everyone.

Holden simply does not desire to fit in with anyone. This theme is accurately defined through Phoebe's statement to Holden that he doesn't like anything at all.


We’ve answered 317,889 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question