· Holden shows every sign of being a social outcast generally speaking, identifying himself with other outcasts, like for example the lunatic in the tombs in the New Testament and partly also the two nuns. The same goes for his constant concern for the ducks in Central Park, actually one of the few symbols/ metaphors/ poetic images in the novel.
· Holden’s problems getting on with his fellow students,
for example at Pency Prep
· Holden’s problems with regard to befriending adults in particular (with the exception of the two nuns and Mr Antolini, maybe also Ms Morrow and the hat check girl)
· Most of his efforts to establish social contact and communication eventually break down: ”….giving Jane Gallagher a buzz..”
· Most of the relationships that Holden seems to remember favourably either belong to the past and/or they involve children: Allie, Phoebe, the little limping boy, the little girl in the park
2. The conflict between the individual and society:
· The reason why most of Holden’s attempts to establish social links fail are all probably that he so strongly rejects the basic values of the adult society. To Holden money and the status money gives seem to rule the world of the grown-ups, merciless inhuman materialism being the god of modern America,
of which the city of New York is depicted as the main symbol.
N.Y. is populated exclusively by shallow, phony, egocentric people and/or individuals who have been corrupted by the spirit of greedy capitalism.
· This is also – partly at least - the basis for his rejection of the values of the American school system, whose main objective seems to be to ”mould” students into valuable members of a brutally capitalist society. This is in all probability also the reason why Holden at intervals attacks other uniforming institutions of US society, like the Army, even the Boy Scouts.
· Thus the basic dilemma facing Holden, a conflict that ultimately brings him down mentally, are his attempts to adapt...