Holdem Caulfield Leading a Lonely Life
In the novels, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, both of the main characters are plagued with loneliness and a longing for companionship. While Huck seems to come across friends more easily than Holden Caulfield, they both are constantly stricken with a lack of friendly faces and a need for fellowship throughout their journeys for self-realization. Holden’s gravitation away from people he deems “phony” seems to leave him without companionship for most of the novel, whereas Huck always has someone with him, his loneliness is manifested more in his longing for normality. Both characters find some sort of comfort in the idea that they can succeed individually, but realize that they are much better off with a group of people for encouragement and support.
Huckleberry Finn seems to bring on his own loneliness by breaking away from the social norm in order to move towards his own idea of normality. Huck is a young adolescent boy whose mother is dead, and whose father is a drunken buffoon, constantly away on some sort of binge drinking spree. He lives with his aunt, and she attempts to “sivilize” his mannerisms. He runs away from his family; he leaves behind his aunt who cares for him very much. He leaves behind his comforts and his security; he leaves behind his abusive drunken father. “The Widow Douglas she took me for her son, and allowed she would sivilize me; but it was rough living in the house all the time, considering how dismal regular and decent the widow was in all her ways; and so when I couldn’t stand it no longer I lit out.” (Twain 13) He travels off into the night in order to find out what he wants for himself. Huck’s experience with the cabin in the woods appears to be the breaking point. When Huck has to endure many days and nights, cramped into a small cabin with his insane father, he realizes that a life of drunkenness and foolery were not what he wanted. He runs away, and soon realizes that perhaps home is better than he thought it was.
Holden is lonely preceding as well as throughout the novel, and although his situation is quite different from Huck’s, it seems to lead to many of the same feelings. His brother Allie has been killed by leukemia some time before, and his parents have given up all hope of recovering from their grief. They manifest their sorrow by ignoring Holden and constantly sending him off to boarding schools. Holden tries to catch his parents’ attention by failing out of school after school, but it is to no avail.
Holden’s parents are curiously absent from the entire novel; They seem to have forgotten that they have children, leaving Holden lonely and desperate. Holden’s sister Phoebe was left at home by herself all night, and there is nothing to allude to this being strange. It leads the reader to believe that Holden’s parents have abandoned their family. Holden’s loneliness seems to be manifested purely in a feeling of abandonment. His brother Allie abandoned him by dying, his family has abandoned him by sending him off to school so they can forget. He abandons his schools each year, so that he doesn’t have to get to know people. When you become attached to something or someone, it hurts even more when you find that you have to leave them.
Holden’s mental trauma has led him to believe that there is nothing left in this world that will give him a sense of security. He feels safer underneath his red hunting hat: his “people-shooting hat.” (Salinger 22) Holden’s sense of security changes from a very lacking sense before, to a much safer sense after having gotten together with his sister. She seems to be the only person who understands him. Before Holden met up with Phoebe, he was extremely depressed, he didn’t feel like doing anything, and he was longing for companionship. As soon as he got Phoebe into the picture, he cheered up, he was ready to go out and do something, he let his guard down a little bit. However, when Phoebe pulls the hunting hat out of Holden’s pocket and puts it on his head, it is symbolic of Holden breaking out of his cocoon of exclusion from society, and his realization that he stands out, that he is an individual.
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