Discuss the theme of alienation in "the Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger and "The Chocolate War" by Robert Cormier.

Essay by SupermansamHigh School, 12th gradeA+, May 2004

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Growing Up and Loathing It

Alienation can be interpreted as loneliness caused by the lack of understanding of others, and may be caused by oneself or inflicted upon by another. During teenage years, boys are especially susceptible to the anguish felt as a result of alienation. Jerry Renault, the protagonist of the Chocolate War, is encumbered by both the alienation imposed upon himself, and that which is burdened upon him by a secret society known as the Vigils. The Catcher in the Rye introduces Holden Caufield who has segregated himself from all but a few of those surrounding him, and is deeply troubled by this. The alienation wrought by Caufield's awkward ascension into adulthood is manifested in his fallacious attempts to casually interact with others. Because of their ages, Jerry and Holden feel threatened by the individuals whom they would normally associate themselves. This intimidation spurs the alienation and loneliness felt by Jerry Renault and Holden Caufield.

Jerry Renault, an average teenager, has an issue with confidence that influences him to doubt himself, and thus alienate himself from his peers. Because Renault has low self-esteem and feels little influence from his classmates, he refuses to sell chocolates "like every other kid in... school"(Cormier 66). He lacks the school spirit that others posses because he is excluded from them in his head. This reinforces Renault's lack of influence felt as a result of others, and shows the fact that he is indeed alienated. In addition, after he refuses to sell the chocolates and is shunned by his classmates, "he [feels] invisible"(163). Jerry causes this himself, for his actions alone influence the entire student body to dissociate him from their ranks. Jerry who is suddenly forced to come to terms with the situation, instead, separates himself from his former peers...