To be an outsider is to deviate dramatically from the norm so eradicate any chance of re-integration
The Catcher in the Rye is based around a young boy’s manic quest for companionship as he flints from one meaningless encounter to another. Yet, all the while his behaviour indicates his loneliness, Holden constantly shies away from introspection and thus doesn’t really know why he keeps behaving the way he does and therefore sabotaging any chance of integration.
Society in the early 1950s, the time this novel was set, was all about convention and conformity. Catcher is set after World War II, where America had played a big part in winning the war and had become a ‘super power’. Society, at this time, was affluent and very materialistic. People were generally well off and believed that America Was the greatest country in the world. Often people of the time were suspicious of anyone who was different from others, or did not share their beliefs about American society’s greatness. There was no such thing as the angsty teenager; boys turned into young men over night as an advert for Pencey Prep said, “we have been molding boys into splendid, clear-thinking young men.” Even the word molding suggests easily manipulated and where everyone is identical in their way of thinking and everyone is conventional. This isn’t a world to which Holden belongs and “was surrounded by phonies”.
Holden cannot be in the norm because everyone around him is “phony”. “Phoniness” is probably the most famous phrase from The Catcher and the Rye and is one of Holden’s favourite concepts. It is his catchall for describing the superficiality, hypocrisy, pretension and shallowness that he encounters in the world around him. Phoniness stands as an emblem of everything that’s wrong in the world around him and provides an excuse for him to withdraw into his cynical isolation. Though he has many chances to break free from his isolation, for example his relationship with Sally Hayes, however Holden...