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Give a specific example of a conflict with society that Holden in The Catcher in the...

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danielb77 | Valedictorian

Posted July 18, 2013 at 5:33 PM via web

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Give a specific example of a conflict with society that Holden in The Catcher in the Rye experiences.

 

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 19, 2013 at 8:18 AM (Answer #1)

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This novel contains many examples of situations where Holden is placed in conflict with society at large, and indeed this is one of the key themes of the novel as Holden embarks on his journey and tries to connect with various people. However, one key way in which he is shown to be in conflict with society is the way that he keeps on getting expelled from schools. In Chapter 2 for example, Holden recalls a conversation he had with Spencer, one of his teachers, where he tries to instil within Holden a recognition that life must be lived according to rules. Note how Holden responds:

Game, my ass. Some game. If you get on the side where all the hot-shots are, then it’s a game, all right—I’ll admit that. But if you get on the other side, where there aren’t any hot-shots, then what’s a game about it? Nothing. No game.

It is clear that Holden identifies himself with those on "the other side," and his feelings of being disadvantaged come through very clearly in this quote. Yet, at the same time, it appears strange to the reader that Holden would view himself as not being a "hot-shot." From what Holden reveals about himself, he has every advantage in terms of wealthy parents and the opportunity to gain a good education. It is his refusal to play by the rules of the game, as Spencer refers to them, which brings him into conflict with society and results in his alienation, which, as the novel continues, the reader can see as being largely self-imposed.

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