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Explain how Holden is alienated through his own frame of reference.

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danielb77 | Valedictorian

Posted June 6, 2013 at 3:18 AM via web

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Explain how Holden is alienated through his own frame of reference.

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akannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 6, 2013 at 3:40 AM (Answer #1)

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Holden is alienated through his own frame of reference in a couple of ways.  The first is that he views reality through the lens of phoniness.  Holden is convinced that the entire structure of the Status Quo is designed to sustain and enhance "phonies."  At Pencey Prep, the world of interpersonal relationships, of how people interact with one another, enshrines elements that Holden views as representing the domain of phoniness and hypocrisy.  It is here that he is alienated.  Holden is alienated through his own frame of reference because he always views the social setting with a divided consciousness.  He is unable to fully immerse himself in the social condition because of his hatred of phoniness and authority figures.  

Another reason that Holden is alienated through his own frame of reference is with his inability to assimilate into this condition of being. Holden is steadfast because of his refusal to integrate himself into a world where the perception of hypocrisy is evident.  Holden cannot bring himself make his own voice heard in this setting.  His frame of reference is one that keeps him on the outside, marginalized both by his refusal to be a part of this social configuration and the social fabric's unwillingness to embrace him.  For this reason, Holden is alienated through his own frame of reference.  He is divided, participating in yet remaining outside and alienated from meaningful social contact.  Since the ending of the novel seems as to indicate the cycle will repeat, with Holden going back to another prep school, it does not seem likely that his alienating frame of reference will ever really change.

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