Holden’s Failure to Make Friends in the Catcher in the Rye

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Holden’s Failure to Seek Company

Holden is seeking company in the Lavender Room but is unable to find what he seeks as he constantly finds fault with other people’s characters. Holden feels lonely and decides to visit a local nightclub after leaving his school. At the nightclub, he tries to reach out and talk to others, desiring company. Although he tries his best to converse with a group of girls but constantly finds himself annoyed by them. Holden searches for people to talk to, as illustrated through his thoughts about the girls at the nearby table and his conversation with the mother of someone he greatly dislikes. He is also unable to find the company as he holds others to unrealistic standards when comparing them to his closest friends.

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It is apparent that Holden is in desperate search for a new friend that he can feel comfortable with. After being given a table at the Lavender Room, Holden started “giving the three witches at the next table the eye again. That is, the blond one. The other two were strictly from hunger” (91). Although it seems like Holden is interested in their looks, deep down, he just wants someone he can converse with without getting annoyed by their personality. Holden is often quick to judge people and easily gets annoyed by miniscule traits. Partly due to his pickiness, Holden has trouble maintaining a conversation with someone as half way through, he will pinpoint on minute attributes about the other person that annoy him. Holden is so desperate for companionship that even though he is not attracted to the two of the girls based off their appearance, he is yearning to have a conversation with someone. Another action and thought that constantly reappears with Holden is how he always tries to talk to people. Earlier that day, when Holden was on the train, he lies to keep the conversation going, and even asks someone he talked to if she “would care for a cocktail” (74). The woman was the mother of a person that Holden found to be very “phony” yet still asks her if she would like to grab a drink with him. Most students would not want to go out with their friends’ mothers, and especially not with the mother of someone they greatly dislike. Holden is so deeply yearning for someone to listen to him that he even looks to satisfy this need with people that others normally would not converse with.

Although Holden is set out to find out someone who will talk with him, he continuously fails. Holden repeatedly chats with others but always ends up focusing on a small characteristic that he dislikes about them or finds that they are uncomparable to his favorite people. Before Holden heads off to the Lavender Room, he thinks about how he was “damn near gave my kid sister Phoebe a buzz, though. I certainly felt like talking to her on the phone. Somebody with sense and all… You never saw a little kid so pretty and smart in your whole life” (87). Holden then continues to ramble on about how wonderful his sister is. Holden states how his sister is someone that has “sense and all”, implying that most other people he has talked to all do not have the same level of perception. Holden has set his standards so high that only very few people, like his sister, reach it. Through knowing a few extraordinary people in his life, Holden finds trouble communicating with other people as he feels that they are not as wondrous. After coming home from the Lavender Room, Holden suddenly “got old Jane Gallagher on the brain again. I got her on and couldn’t get her off” (99). Jane was an old close friend of his that he was deeply fond of. Holden implies that it is not the first time that he has thought about Jane and it is a recurring thought. Moreover, Holden thinks of her right after trying to seek company in the Lavender Room. Holden tries to connect with people but ends up comparing them to his previous close friends and realizes they cannot be compared with his exceptional friends. Due to that, Holden has trouble befriending others as he holds them to his unrealistic, high standards.

Visiting the Lavender Room is Holden’s attempt to reach out for comfort and meaningful conversation. Holden is appalled by the girls at a nearby table, yet still craves to talk to them. He also resorts to talking to the mother of a fellow student that he finds great distaste in. Although Holden takes these measures to commence in a talk, he failed miserably satisfy his need for company. He holds people to near unattainable standards through comparing with his smart sister or his exceptional friend Jane, who he was deeply connected with. Despite his urgent desire to communicate with others for comfort, he unfortunately failed helplessly.

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