Isolation in The Catcher in the Rye refers to the personal, social, and mental isolation of one individual, seventeen-year-old Holden Caulfield, from the rest of the world. The novel explores the tension between the desire to observe, judge, and alienate with the need to meet, converse, and connect. We constantly see the desire to reach out mitigated by hesitation and passivity.
Although Holden feels alienated from the entire world throughout the book, the last line of the novel indicates that the very act of speaking his story connects him to his audience – and saves him from isolation.
Although Holden would blame other people and their "phoniness" for his loneliness, it is clear that the fault is entirely his own.