Often times in society adapting to the expectations of how to live allows a person to feel more wanted and loved. In J.D. Salinger’s “The catcher in the rye” that was the case for Holden Caulfield, a 16-year-old boy that struggles to fit in this world full of “phonies”. Throughout the book, many events have occurred to show Holden trying to fit in and explains how it makes you into the person you are.
Holden doesn’t get a lot of attention therefore, making it hard for him to be a social butterfly. He tries to talk to other people like Mr. Spencer, Carl Luce, Stradlater and Sally but at the end he leaves them with a bad impression of him. Holden is a lonely guy with strong opinion of others especially adults. “Anyway, it was the Saturday of the football game I remember around three o’clock that afternoon I was standing way the hell up on top of Thomsen Hill You could see the whole field from there, and you could see the two teams bashing each other all over the place You could hear them all yelling” (Page 2) that hints to the readers that while everyone else is at the game, Holden doesn’t seem to feel like he fits in with everyone else therefore isolating him from society. Talking to people makes him feel appreciated but it’s something he rather not do especially when Mr. Spencer gave him a lecture about getting his life together by saying “Life is a game, Boy, Life is a game that one plays according to the rules.” (page 8)
Holden has a strong personality that may seem a little harsh to people especially in his actions. He loves to use the word “phony” when referring to a lot of people and he doesn’t like the adulthood which he tries to stay away from. First, when he was told that he was getting expelled he didn’t do anything about it, it was just another school that kicked him out. “When I had my bags and all, I stood for a while I was sort of crying… then I yelled “sleep tight ya morans!” I bet I woke up every bastard on the whole, then got the hell out.” As a 16-year-old, Holden is expected to act the way he is in the book, the swearing and thoughts going through his mind. It’s normal for people his age to do that.
Holden is not an open book as he said, “Besides I’m not going to tell you my autobiography or anything” (Page 1), however, we see his characteristics and how he tries fits in mainly through his thoughts. When Holden said “What I was really hanging around for, I was trying to feel some kind of good-by. I mean I’ve left schools and places I didn’t even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don’t care if it’s a sad good-by or a bad good-by, but when I leave a place I like to know I’m leaving it. If you don’t, you feel even worse.” (page 4), he tries to feel a connection with a place, he tries to make something out of it and he rather be sad than not say goodbye.
Holden has very intense thought’s especially about suicide, for example, “It took me quite a while to get to sleep-I wasn’t even tired- but finally I did. What I really felt like, though, was committing suicide. I felt like jumping out the window. I probably would’ve done it, too, If I’d been sure somebody’d cover me up as soon as I landed. I didn’t want a bunch of stupid rubbernecks looking at me when I was all gory.” (page 104) This shows he is an unstable emotional kid that has gone through his life with events occurring like his brother D.B passing away from Cancer and his other friend killing himself that has traumatized him and affected the growth of the child in many ways so for Holden Caulfield to feel that way is totally normal especially since he has no one to support him or be there for him.
There are perks and flaws to trying to fit in. Not everyone can do it and Holden is for sure one of those people. It’s really weird if you think about it because why do people try so hard to fit in? Why can’t we be good on our own? As Dr. Seuss, always says “Why fit in when you were born to standout!” However, not fitting in helped Holden not go through all the drama, emotional and physical pain, and suffer that every teenager goes through but he’s isolated him from the world and what the world is really like.