In "The Catcher in the Rye", what are some examples of Holden being isolated or being an outsider?

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pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At Pencey Prep, Holden does not have any friends. His roommate, Stradlater puts up with him, but they are not friends. The dorm neighbor, Ackley, also considered an outsider, isn't Holden's friend either. Holden finds something wrong with everyone, especially adults, whom he believes are all phonies.

Holden is disconnected from his life as a student, repeatedly getting kicked out of one school after another, he does not succeed academically. It is not because Holden is stupid, just detached, he doesn't care, he doesn't do any work. He seems to fail on purpose, unable to stop the process, because he is so depressed.

Holden leaves Pencey Prep before Christmas vacation officially begins, because he can't stand to wait around anymore. Stradlater goes out on a date with Holden's dream girl, Jane Gallagher, a girl that Holden adores, but one that he never calls.

Once Holden begins his travel to NYC, he meets a mother of one of his classmates on the train. He lies to Mrs. Morrow,giving her a false identity, not desiring to really connect with her. He tells her all kind of lies. Holden keeps himself at a distance from everyone.

Afraid of bumping into his parents or their friends in NYC, he checks into a flea bag hotel in a questionable neighborhood. He is lonely and isolated. He ends up engaging a hooker, just to have someone to talk to, he really only wanted to talk.

atyourservice | Student
  • “Practically the whole school except me was there” (5)
  • “As soon as I was inside, I couldn’t think of anybody to call up.” (66)
  • Keeps asking people to drink with him.
  • Believes everyone is a phony.

Throughout the book loneliness is an occurring theme. The first example takes place in the beginning of story, right from the start we can get the idea that the main guy does not like to mix with the crowd; he doesn’t understand the point of watching the last football game therefore putting a distance between him and his friends. When he first leaves the school and goes into New York, he tries several times to think of someone to call at the phone booth yet he always came up with an excuse not to call, making him more lonesome. He also kept asking people if they wanted to drink with him. He even asked one of his school mates he seemed to dislike for a drink just because he felt lonely, it ended very badly but it shows just how lonely he is, because he goes as far as call someone he doesn’t like just because it is the only person he can think of. Another example is also the fact fats that he keeps calling people phonies; I see that as a way for him to feel better about not being included in things. By making the excuse that things are phony, he doesn’t find a reason to indulge into them and I feel like it is a way for him to protect himself.

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The Catcher in the Rye

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