The most salient theme in Salinger's Catcher in the Rye is the Alienation of the Individual who is in conflict with his society. Holden Caulfield feels himself alone among adults, classmates, and even his living brother. In his conversation with Mr. Spencer in Chapter 2 Holden's silent contempt for the phoniness and hypocrisy of the adult world is evinced, "We were too much on opposite sides of the pole." In Chapter 3, Ackley ridicules Holden's hat as a deer hat, causing Holden to identify it as a symbol of his independence. “This is a people shooting hat,” I said. “I shoot people in this hat.” Further,in Chapter 5, Holden attempts to write a composition for which his roommate Stradlater has asked him while he goes on a date; however, Holden cannot think of anything pertinent. Instead, memories of his brother Allie, who has died of Leukemia, crash in on Holden.
He was the most intelligent member in the family. He was also the nicest....He never got mad at anybody...God, he was a nice kid, though.
This memory and his recall of his little sister Phoebe in Chapter 10 certainly point to his disdain for the adult world as Holden fondly recalls his siblings, who yet possess[ed] the innocence and candor of childhood.
The falsity of society with which an individual comes into conflict is thematic of other works of literature, particularly some feminist stories, such as "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin and "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gillman. These two stories were published at the turn of the twentieth century, a time during which the femme covert [French for "married woman"] laws were in effect. These laws dictated that a married woman did not possess any property independently of her husband, even if she had owned it prior to their marriage. As a result, women were rather repressed in their married state, subject to the dictates of their husbands. Because they also had no right to vote, women possessed little voice in their societies and sensed a certain isolation; some felt that declarations of love from their domineering husbands was hypocritical, just as Holden finds adults who pretend to care about him as hypocritical. And, although his situation differs from the women of these times, he senses an alienation from the false society around him as they also do.
the theme is somber of lonelyness