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Themes in Catcher in the Rye

Throughout the novel The Catcher in the Rye there are numerous themes to consider, each of which add increasing levels of depth to the story as a whole. Many of these themes revolve around the main character, Holden, and his interactions with others. One of the most prominent of these is the theme of loneliness and isolation, usually as a way of protecting oneself. Throughout the novel, Holden makes it seem as though he is seeking companionship from others; however, when he is given the opportunity to forge true bonds of friendship, he is unable to do so. This is likely because he views isolation as a means of self-protection, ensuring he is not placed in a situation that he cannot control where others have the ability to hurt him. The presence of his hat in many scenes further creates a barrier between him and others, enhancing the notion of isolation as essential to his existence.

Themes in Catcher in the Rye

The story is, at its core, a coming of age story, describing in great detail the pains and struggles of becoming an adult. This might seem like a stretch, however, because it appears time and time again as though Holden is doing anything and everything in his power to resist this transition into maturity. He is afraid of what adulthood can bring: he is familiar with the innocence and wonder of childhood, and is worrisome about transitioning into the rigor and structure of adulthood. He does not like the proposition of the unknown, and would instead prefer to remain an innocent, unable to mature or grow up. He, as a character, however, will never admit his fear of this: this arrogance and unwillingness to admit fault is just another example of his infantile character and his inability to accept the responsibilities that come with his maturation.

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