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When Holden writes composition for Stradlater in "The Catcher in the Rye", does that...

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anedevls | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 25, 2009 at 12:20 PM via web

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When Holden writes composition for Stradlater in "The Catcher in the Rye", does that represent isolation? Why?

i have to pick 2 points on Allie's baseball mitt that reflects on isolation. my first topic sentence is about emotional feelings towards Allie but i dont knw what can i pick for the 2 nd topic sentence. can i write about composition?? and how should i write it.. pls and thanks

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pmiranda2857 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 26, 2009 at 10:36 PM (Answer #1)

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Holden's isolation is expressed in the fact that while Stradlater goes out on a date, Holden is all alone in his dorm room, doing homework for his roommate.  It is clear in the early chapters, that Holden does not have any real friends at Pency Prep.  

Stradlater's composition is supposed to be about a room in a house that can be described.  Holden decides to write about his dead brother's baseball glove because he is deeply depressed about his death and has not come to terms with his grief over the loss of his brother.

"Rather than writing a description of a room or a house, Holden writes a description of his younger brother Allie’s baseball glove. Allie died of leukemia in 1946 when the family was in Maine."

Allie's glove, with the green writing on it, is symbolic of isolation.  Allie felt separate from his teammates while playing baseball.  Instead of paying attention to the game, he would write poetry on his glove while playing the outfield.

"Allie has written poetry all over the glove so he has something to read when he gets bored in the outfield. Holden was very fond of his brother and discusses his reaction to Allie’s death. As he finishes the essay, Holden can hear Ackley snoring and comments that one has to feel sorry for Ackley when one considers all the problems he has."    

The more Holden focuses on his dead brother, the more alone he feels.  He does not connect with the people around him, but dwells on people who are memories, like Allie and Jane Gallagher.  

Holden's deep unresolved sadness over the loss of his brother, a person he tells us was better than him, who should not have died at such as young age, indicates that he feels a sense of guilt over being alive.  Holden questions why he should still be here, when he brother, who was smarter and kinder than him should be dead.

One of the central questions that Holden asks in the book, and never receives a satisfactory answer to, is how can a young person die and the world, his family, accept it and move on with their lives.  Holden is angry at his family for coping with Allie's death, he is angry at the world for continuing when his little brother died.  He is angry at life for being so unfair.

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cjobst | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted March 27, 2009 at 3:52 AM (Answer #2)

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The symbol of isolation lies in the hat that Holden wears while he is writing. The hat represents distance from society and insecurity. The mitt is representative of a "loss of innocence". The fact that he keeps the mitt with poems inside, tells the reader that Holden has not let go of his past nor of innocence. It is as if the mitt fills a void in Holden or gives him comfort when the hole becomes unbearable. Holden is dealing with the loss of his brother, the fact that he his still a child on his way to adulthood and some serious emotions. The mitt is representive of all these things.

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