The Catcher in the Rye: A Novel of Escapism

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The novel Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Slinger explores the theme of escapism through the character of Holden Caulfield. Although the novel does not start with Holden’s desire to commit suicide, it becomes apparent as his character develops throughout the story. Holden often contemplates death as a way to escape his troubled life, even though he never actually goes through with it. He also seeks escape through imaginary conversations with his deceased brother, Allele. This form of escapism allows Holden to reject those around him and seek closure through talking to someone he knows will listen.

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“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”. J. D. Slinger does not start out the novel Catcher in the Rye with this quote, because taken out of context a reader might think that Holder Coalfield actually wants to die. Even though Slinger uses escapism throughout the novel, this theme is not easily noticed until Holder’s character becomes better known by the reader.

Only with the development of Holder’s character does the reader realize Holder’s sarcasm is a way for his character to escape reality. In Holder’s mind, the best way to escape his troubled life is by killing himself. Although he never actually commits suicide, the thought passes through his mind several times throughout the novel. Whether Holder truly believes he might want to die or he’s just fantasizing, the prospect Of death is almost always on his mind.

Expressions such as “I got nearly killed doing it” and “Nearly committed us iced” become Holder’s mantra. When not contemplating his own death, Holder seeks escape through imaginary conversations with his deceased brother Allele. Allele died at the age of nine, when Holder was only 13 years old. Even though there is a gap between their ages, they were very close and Allies death still haunts Holder daily. When Holder is facing a challenge, he often turns to Allele for help.

He understands that he wont be answered, but he seeks closure through the “conversations they share”. This is a form of escapism in the sense that Holder rejects the people around him to talk to somebody he knows will “listen”.

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The Catcher in the Rye: A Novel of Escapism. (2018, Feb 02). Retrieved from

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