The Dangers of Isolation in The Catcher in the Rye It is normal to want to get away from all of the problems of the world, but it is not normal to want to be completely isolated from people. Holden wanted to have no human contact what so ever, and that is not normal. Throughout the book Holden expresses a rebellious attitude toward the world, and this rebellious attitude comes from his infatuation with being alone. He isolates himself from the world because he has not yet found himself and is searching.
Holden feels that he must find himself alone with no one else’s help. Holden expresses his rebellious side when he gets kicked out of school, again. Holden doesn’t like school because he doesn’t like doing activities that he loses patience for and sees no point in doing them. Holden also is rebellious in the way that he smokes and drinks when he is a minor. He is an excessive smoker and turns to alcohol to suppress his feelings of depression, which are signs of alcoholism. This behavior is not unheard of, but is rare for a 16-year-old to become an alcoholic.
From this rebellious attitude Holden becomes isolated from those around him. His first act of isolation with a combination of rebellion is when Holden doesn’t go to the game in the beginning of the book. Everyone was going to be there and he doesn’t want to be like everyone else. Getting kicked out of school is another example of him rebelling and the cause of it being isolation. After he leaves Pency, Holden meets up with an old friend of his, Sally. After hanging out with her for awhile Holden asks her if she wants to run away with him.
From this we learn that he has a desire to get away from the world. From this quote that Holden said we can tell how much he wants to run away, “I thought what I’d do was, I’d pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes. That way I wouldn’t have to have any god dam stupid useless conversations with anybody. If anybody wanted to tell me something, they’d have to write it on a piece of paper and shove it over to me. They’d get bored as hell doing that after awhile, and then I’d be through with having conversations for the rest of my life”(p 198).
Upon being kicked out of school, Holden decides to go on a little vacation. In this short period of time Holden goes through many tribulations. To get from place to place Holden takes taxicabs. During these rides Holden asks the cab drivers if they know where the ducks go when the pond freezes over. The reactions from the cab drivers are different each time, but his recurring concern about the ducks seems to be symbolic of Holden’s desire for purpose and direction. While he is by himself, Holden doesn’t stay in one place for very long.
He didn’t know where to go next just like he didn’t know where his life was going. During his time by himself, Holden imagines becoming a deaf-mute and running away. Holden wants to use his imagination to feel more connected to the world and his emotions. He does this because in his fantasy world he can control what happens and in real life he wanted to do the same. Towards the end of the book, Holden loses more and more of his sense of reality. If he had stayed on this path he would have lost all sense of reality.
All of these feelings that Holden had were each the cause of themselves. He kept going around in a destructive and unproductive cycle, which would be hard to break. In the end of the book, Holden didn’t ride the merry-go-round because he wanted to break that cycle. He wanted to be there for his sister and see her grow up. He wanted to be a part of life, and the world. In order to do that he would need some help, and the mental hospital was the perfect place for the kind of help Holden needed.
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