Donnie and Holden: a story of social outcasts

For the first time ever, I watched the movie Donnie Darko so I could compare it the the book I read in English class called A Catcher in The Rye. While watching the movie I saw so many characteristics and mindsets from the main character in the movie, Donnie Darko, that I see in Holden. Donnie and Holden have this refusal to conform to their society’s standards leading them to be a sort of social outcast. Holden has a difficult time making friends because he believes everyone is a phony and would rather die than become the way they are as an attempt to fit in, not that he needs to. We see examples of Holden being a social outcast are when he stated “practically the whole school was there but me” and “As soon as I was inside, I couldn’t think of anyone to call up”.

Holden’s “social outcast” attitude is similar to Donnie’s because Donnie’s bizarre dreams and mental state separate him from the people at his school. In Donnie’s town in which he lives in believe following the advice of Jim Cunningham who believes that the spectrum of human emotion falls into two categories, fear and love. In this amazing scene from the movie we see Donnie telling his teacher who gives a scenario and to place emotion that would fall in the category that life isn’t that simple and that emotions are far more complex to be placed into a category.


Donnie is the first person to question the followings of Jim Cunningham and point out the flaws that come with the whole emotions only come in two categories mindset. We see Donnie do this again when Jim comes to speak at his school and give a whole speech about his book on emotional beliefs which leads to Donnie telling him that his views aren’t realistic and gives advice to people on how to actually handle their problems.


Holden does the same thing when he talks about the private school he attends and states “It’s full of phonies, and all you do is study so that you can learn enough to be smart to be able to buy a goddamn Cadillac some day, and you have to keep making believe you give a damn if the football team loses, and all you do is talk about girls and liquor and sex all day, and everyday sticks together in these dirty little goddamn cliques”. Holden is the first one to question the school system and the way the people in the school system behave. He doesn’t understand the glamorizing of Pencey prep or any of the people in it for that matter.

Holden and Donnie can’t just accept the way their society is because of their moral values and standards even if that means being seen as “different” by their peers. They both get isolated from the rest of society and get put into a category of being “crazy”or “weird”. Donnie and Holden are just misunderstood in my opinion and live in a world where if society sees them stand out in any shape or form they immediately get pushed aside and ignored which is still relevant today. If they taught us anything, it’s that conforming to society is insane and it’s just bizarre that a mass group of people would want to think, look, act, and believe in the same way.


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