According to Webster's Dictionary, conflict is a fight, battle, or war. Salinger's novel, Catcher in the Rye, but not the "shock and awe" standard of a war or battle, but on more of a subdued level. The novel's protagonist, Holden Caulfield, is a confused teenager, lost in the world around him, unable to fit in. Holden's conflicts are mainly internal, more at war with himself, but his reactions are quite visible. Most of his angst with the world is self induced and he seems truly perplexed by society. His internal conflicts cause a "snowball" effect with his life. He doesn't effectively deal with his internal conflicts on a mature level, causing them to become external, and even adding more problems. Holden is at war with everyone in the novel, even himself.
Holden versus Himself is very evident in the novel. Holden has a hard time dealing with everyday life, and feels that everyone around him is a "phony" or a fake. Holden is overly critical about everything around him, proving him to be a definite pessimist. He is extremely emotional and never takes things at their true value. This internal conflict has caused Holden to withdraw from the world around him. Holden often recalls memories of when times were better. He constantly dwells on the past, but he never accepts the fact that past conflicts are often his fault. This is another problem that causes Holden to lose friends easily. Holden often acts immaturely towards others and reacts inappropriately to many situations. For example, the first major conflict encountered in the novel is how Holden will inform his parents that he has been expelled for yet another prep school. This conflict is clearly internal, and could have been taken care of quickly if he would have accepted responsibility for his actions.
Holden versus Man is also very evident in the novel. Holden's pessimistic attitude and chronic lying causes him to get into many fights and predicaments.