Catcher In The Rye And The Bell Jar Analysis

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Throughout both “The Catcher in the Rye” and “The Bell Jar”, the readers obtain an understanding of major themes which include; the search of social identity, the idea of a “melting pot”, and the American Dream. Both novels refer to the difficulties of the transition to adolescence. While for some, the transition may be exciting, others have a difficult time adjusting to the instant, yet drastic change. Holden Caulfield and Esther Westwood, the main characters of each of the books, have quite a difficult time adjusting. Both books share similarities, although the characters’ interactions with certain difficulties vary. While, some of their most difficult struggles, are based upon the recurring themes in the novels. The books allow the readers …show more content…
They both go against what society says in search of themselves. Holden Caulfield goes in and out of schools in search of his identity, yet only encounters a bunch of “phonies”. Holden doesn’t want to grow up because he’ll become a “phony” just like everyone else. After getting kicked out of Pencey, Holden goes around creating a fake reality for himself. Where he wishes to run off into the woods and live to himself with no worries. The novel states, “What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff -- I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I’d do all day, I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all.” (Salinger, 225). This quote showing how Holden wants to hold onto his innocence as well as the innocence of others because it will lead to a less corrupted world. The readers also soon realize that Holden’s use of the word “phony” reveals more of his identity. It shows how Holden thinks that the world lacks individuals, which is why he wears a red hat in public, to show his ability to distance himself from being like everyone else. So, Holden’s search for social identity never evolves due to him not ever being able to fit into what society’s expectations and beliefs are. Therefore, isolation seems to be a choice he takes into …show more content…
Throughout both novels, Esther Westwood and Holden Caulfield, have their own idea of an American Dream. “The Bell Jar” portrays the American Dream when it states, “All my life I’d told myself studying and reading and writing and working like mad was what I wanted to do, and it actually seemed to be true, I did everything well enough and got all A’s, and by the time I made it to college nobody could stop me.” (Plath, 31). Esther has a desperation for success, to the point where she spent all her days putting as much work possible towards her education. By the time she got to college her desire to succeed was completely unstoppable. Despite the unequalness between men and women at the time, Esther did whatever she had to do to follow and succeed at her dream, until her life to a turn. However, Holden in “The Catcher in the Rye” doesn’t quite believe in the American Dream. The novel states, “It’s full of phonies, and all you do is study so that you can learn enough to be smart enough to be able to buy a goddam Cadillac some day,” (Salinger, 170). Holden believes that the main reason people educate themselves is because they want to become rich, and that’s a bunch of “phony”. Holden specifies that by studying, people are smart enough to one day be able to buy a Cadillac-- which shows that this is the “ideal” way of obtaining and following the “American

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