“I felt so lonesome, all of the sudden. I almost wished I was dead. ” (Salinger 48). In this quote by Holden Caulfield he states that he is lonely enough to the point where he would almost give up his life and everything in it. But in reality, every move Holden makes brings him closer and closer to feeling and being alone. From fighting with one of the only friends he has and going out on his own; then to running away from the one person who may have been trying to help him turn this life around; and finally to wanting to live by himself as a deaf mute out west in a cabin.
Each of these behaviors are crucial in the result of Holden becoming more isolated throughout the story, and each of them are his own doing. To avoid isolation and loneliness, probably the most important key to have in your life is friends. Now Holden does not have many people he would consider friends, that is he only points out the defects of the people who are closest to him, instead of the positives. One of these kids, Ward Stradlater, is his roommate at his school, Pencey Prep.
According to Holden he is one of those “pretty boys” who gets all the girls and just uses them for a short time to get what he wants. It happens that this reputation of his is what instigates the irritation from Holden towards him, which then leads to a fight between them. Stradlater gets back from a date with Jane Gallagher, who Holden had grown up with and had been drawn to over his younger years, although it has been quite some time since they last spoke. Holden begins to hound him with questions about the whole night.
Then when he asked if he had sex with her and getting a response from Stradlater of “That’s a professional secret, buddy. ” (Salinger 43), Holden takes a swing at him. He just grazed him but as Holden continued to yell and insult him, Stradlater lays one out on Holden knocking him to the ground and spilling blood from his nose. This leads Holden next door to Ackley’s room, another “friend”, and they chat for a while but thinking about everything that just happened Holden decides to leave that night instead of waiting another few days to go home, on account he had flunked out of school.
He decides he is going to go to New York City, where he only finds himself becoming more isolated as further events take place. But in doing so Holden officially separates himself from some of the only friends he may have had. Now he must find other means of taking positive steps, which proves to be rather difficult for him. Holden’s staying in the city turns out to be the opposite of what he is hoping for as a few events only make him more depressed, leading him to one of his former teacher’s house to talk things over, this teacher is Mr. Antollini.
Holden explains that when a boy committed suicide at Pencey Prep. the only adult figure to respond in a respectful and caring way was Mr. Antollini, and for that Holden holds respect for him above others. As soon as Holden explains his situation to him with being kicked out of school, he immediately invites Holden to stay at his home. Mr. Antollini discusses with Holden that he is setting himself up for this great fall in life and that he is there for any guidance Holden may need.
Now as Holden has never felt this kind of compassion from anybody he feels a bit uneasy and on the edge, so when he wakes up to Mr. Antollini patting his head. Of course, Holden feels that it is a sexual advance and immediately flees the apartment. But what if he was just being sincere? Holden even says, “I know more damn perverts, at school and all, than anybody you ever met, and they’re always being perverty when I’m around. ” (Salinger 192), which shows that he may be a homophobe or that he exaggerates every situation with a hint of possible sexual feeling.
It can be interpreted easily, with the support and advice given by Mr. Antollini earlier, that he simply cares about Holden and what he is going to do with his life. However, yet again Holden bails and leaves someone behind, this time maybe the only one who trying to help Holden steer his life back on track. Therefore as he continues to isolate himself from the world, he takes the biggest step away by having an extreme fantasy later on.
So after the fight with Sradlater, all of his experiences in the city, and the situation with Mr. Antollini, Holden is closer to his breaking point than ever. He now draws up a fantasy in his mind where he moves out west to a small town and lives in a cabin by himself. He will work at a gas station and pretend to be a deaf mute, a deaf mute! He wants to isolate himself so far to the point where he does not even want to talk to anyone ever again! He figures that with writing on a piece of paper being the only means of communication between him and others that people will get fed up and stop talking to him all together.
He even wants to marry a deaf mute, he does not even want to share his love and emotion with one person, only to be alone. Even though it is not sought through. imagine how drastic this idea really is, and all of it could have been prevented. It possibly could have been stopped by him not leaving his friends, or by not leaving Mr. Antollini. But the fact is that he did and this is now what Holden Caulfield feels, isolation. In reality, wishing to be dead is not very far from Holden’s deaf mute fantasy.
In fact, the quote of “I felt so lonesome, all of the sudden. I almost wished I was dead. (Salinger 48), by him actually previews this fantasy of his taking place later in the book; as the fantasy of him never speaking to anyone again basically acts out the idea of being dead. Only this time there are not multiple people to point the finger at, the fault can fall on only one individual. That person is responsible for the behaviors of abandoning those who were ultimately there to help. So as each person is responsible for their own behavior and actions, even if those actions point them in a direction they did not wish to go, in this case, isolation. That blame falls on Holden Caulfield.