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Comparative Essay Catcher In The Rye Vs

Theme Comparison Of The Catcher In The Rye And Franny And Zooey

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The world today is very deceptive and phony. J.D. Salinger’s well known novels, The Catcher in the Rye and Franny and Zooey attack this fake and superficial society which is evident through the lives, ideas, actions, and words expressed by the characters in these literary pieces. The transition from childhood, through adolescence and into adulthood is inevitable. The protagonist of The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield goes through this stage and finds himself in a crisis. He alienates himself from everyone who is around him and tries his best not to grow up. Holden often dwells upon his childhood and the life he had with his family. Franny in Franny and Zooey has already passed this stage but finds it difficult to live in a world where everyone she is surrounded by is only concerned with outward appearances. In these worlds, both characters, Holden and Franny, reveal their struggle of growing up and trying to live as an adult in a world full of deception and shallow-minded people who only care about appearances.
From the protagonists’ point of view, the adult world Holden and Franny are entering and living in is a very superficial place. Holden who is sixteen years of age is going through a time of crisis where he is almost forced to become an adult. This concept is the very thing that makes Holden afraid, causing him to misbehave at school. His latest school, Pencey Prep, expels Holden due to his failing grades. When asked for the reason of his lack of academic enthusiasm, Holden simply states that he is not interested in anything. In every school he has attended, Holden has managed to find different reasons not to care and possibly even hate the institutions.
“I didn’t exactly flunk out or anything. I just quit, sort of. One of the biggest reasons I left Elkton Hills was because I was surrounded by phonies…On Sundays, for instance, old Haas went around shaking hands with everybody’s parents when they drove up to school. I mean if a boy’s mother was sort of fat or corny-looking or something, and if somebody’s father was one of those guys that wear those suits with the big shoulders, then old Haas would shake hands with them and give them a phony smile and then he’d go talk, for maybe half an hour with somebody else’s parents.

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It is obvious that Holden does not want to grow up because he thinks that once he becomes an adult, he will become everything he despises. He is a very judgemental person who analyzes the words and actions of everyone around him. The judgments he makes are always negative and he accuses practically everyone he meets of being phony. The way Holden feels about society is the same way Franny feels. She is dating a man named Lane Coutell, who cares for Franny but his concern for his outward appearance is more important to him. While at the train station waiting for Franny to arrive, Lane tries his best to empty his face of any expression to hide how happy and excited he is to see his girlfriend. However, once Franny sees Lane, she throws her arms around him and kisses him, causing Lane to be a little embarrassed. His dislike for public displays of affection with Franny occurs again when Franny faints in a restaurant. He needs to make sure that no one is watching before he strokes her arm to comfort her. Franny’s brother, Zooey, believes that Lane is a phony. “He’s a charm boy and a fake… If he’s worried about Franny at all, I’ll lay all odds it’s for the crummiest reasons.” Franny also expresses contempt toward her egotistical and phony religion professor, who she claims to pretend to be charming. Both Holden and Franny are surrounded by fakes and liars in their lives which cause their disbelief in the adult, real world.
Filled with contempt for the society of fakes and phonies, Holden and Franny turn to different elements in their lives to find some sort of comfort. Holden deeply searches for this in his family relationships and with girls he is attracted to. Throughout the course of the novel, Holden comes across many girls he likes. In one of his many encounters, Holden dances with one girl that he claims he is “half in love with”. They dance and he tries to engage in conversation with her but she is not interested in Holden. Instead, what is truly on her mind is her eagerness to find celebrities at the club they are at. Holden is frustrated with her yet he still likes her because of her physical attributes and dancing skills. The only person that Holden truly loves and has a deep connection with is his ten year old sister, Phoebe. Despite the fact that she is six years younger than him, she is the only person who understands him. She wants to help her brother out greatly because she is genuinely concerned for him. When Phoebe asks Holden what he wants to do with his life, he claims he wants to be a catcher in the rye, hence the title of the novel. “I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around—nobody big, except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff.” This reveals that he wants to save all children from entering adulthood. Holden is desperately trying to hold on to his youth and often reminisces about his childhood in the same way that Phoebe does. However, unlike Holden, Phoebe understands that maturing into an adult is a necessary process of life. Phoebe’s unconditional love for Holden is the one thing that keeps him going. Family is also an important element for Franny. In her family, Franny and her brothers are much more gifted and intelligent than her parents. Yet they keep reminding each other that their parents must be loved and respected for everything they are and everything they have given their children. In the second part of Franny and Zooey, Franny is undergoing a crisis. Much of what sets off Franny's breakdown is her dissatisfaction with the experience she is having at college. She hates both herself and others for the egotistical behaviour and phony conformity in which they all engage. It is Franny’s brother, Zooey, who helps her with her problems and gives her advice and words of encouragement. In the two novels, both protagonists have a sibling to depend on and to provide hope for them.
Aside from their relationships with family members, Holden and Franny feel isolated from the rest of society. Holden is searching for real friendship anywhere he can find it. He does not feel any connection with his classmates because he claims multiple times that they are all phonies. Throughout Holden’s journey back home, he is desperate to feel connected to someone, anyone. He calls several people from his past to meet up with him—even people he does not like. Holden is yearning for any kind of connection. When he is given the opportunity to lose his virginity to a prostitute, he accepts. His original reason for wanting one is to gain some experience and practice in case he ever gets married. However once the prostitute arrives at his hotel room, Holden finds himself only wanting to converse with the young lady causing her to be irritated. Holden is in search for deep meaning in his life. He desires truth, warmth, support and understanding those around him. He is highly intelligent and can see through the falseness of human dialogue, but he also engages in this very falsehood by acting conceited and pretending to be someone he is not when he is with strangers. His disguise is a defence mechanism against getting hurt. A symbol of Holden’s feelings of isolation from society is a red hunting hat. It is inseparable from the image of Holden because it is a symbol of his uniqueness and individuality. The hat is outlandish, and it shows that Holden desires to be different from everyone around him. At the same time, he is very self-conscious about the hat. He always mentions when he is wearing it, and he often does not wear it if he is going to be around people he knows. The presence of the hat mirrors Holden’s need for isolation against his need for companionship. Franny, too, experiences isolation. Franny and her brother Zooey blame their older brothers for turning them into outcasts in society. Their brothers have embedded spirituality into their heads since they were very young. “We’re freaks, that’s all. Those two bastards got us nice and early and made us into freaks with freakish standards, that’s all. We’re the Tattooed Lady, and we’re never going to have a minute’s peace, the rest of our lives, till everybody else is tattooed, too.” Another contributing factor into their isolation from society is the fact that Franny and her brothers are celebrities from their early years of being on a radio talk show for children called It’s a Wise Child. Their time on the radio has led Franny and her brothers not to communicate in a “normal” way. Instead each of them speaks as if they are reading off a script. Due to this, Franny accuses herself of being a fake; just like everyone else she knows which frustrates her greatly. In the case of Franny, her isolation from everyone is due to the way she was raised and brought up. However, both Holden and Franny deal with their contempt for the superficial society by separating themselves from everyone.
It is apparent that the protagonists Salinger creates in his novels, The Catcher in the Rye and Franny and Zooey are quite similar and go through the same types of situations. Holden is a teenager undergoing an important life change—becoming an adult. This is a very hard concept for Holden to accept. Consequently, he views the whole world as being a superficial place. In his attempts to deal with reality, he isolates himself even more. The only person Holden depends on is his younger sister Phoebe, who has his best interests at heart. Franny, too is frustrated by those around her. Her phony peers cause her to undergo a crisis. Even her own boyfriend, Lane, does not understand what Franny is going through and is one of the main reasons for her breakdown. Lane is the prime example of a superficial person because he only cares about how others view him. With the help of her brother, Franny pulls through her problems. Through Salinger’s imminent writing style, he has adeptly created characters like Holden and Franny who live in phony worlds and so resist the natural passage of growing up.



 

Lastly, teenagers find themselves asking elders, who more experienced and wise; for advicewhich in the long run may benefit them. To start, the nurse, a very dear person and servant of Juliet,tells Juliet to marry County Paris as Romeo maybe forever gone and Paris is much more suitable.

O, he’s a lovely gentleman! / Romeo’s

a dishclout to him. An eagle, madam, / Hath notso green, so quick, so fair an eye / As Paris hath. Beshrew my very heart, I think you are happy in this

second match, / For it excels your first; … (3.5.220 –

222, 224

 –

225).

Similarly, Mr. Spencer, Holden’s history teacher, is troubled by the fact that Holden’s work is by far

tedious; and gives advice t

o Holden to think ahead, and to apply himself. “Life is a game, boy. Life is agame that one plays according to the rules.” (Salinger 8)

. This quotes shows that Holden is not up to par

like the “other side” of the game (students), and means that Holden is

also being alienated from the

rest. Next, some may find advice from those who are close or the same age. Romeo’s depression leadsBenvolio, his friend, to help him in his time of dire need. “Be ruled by me, forget to think of her…By

giving liberty unto thine eyes; /

Examine other beauties…I’ll pay that doctrine, or else die in debt”(1.1.222, 224, 235). Likewise, Mr. Antolini, Holden’s English teacher, is caring towards Holden to boosthis spirit up, just as Benvolio is to Romeo. Mr. Antolini explains a “fall” which has no surface, but a fall

which keeps going on, he says

that to attain the fruit of Holden’s labour; he must apply himself andfocus, thus provides a Wilhelm Stekel . “The mark of a immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a

cause, while t

he mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.” (Salinger 188). Advice

comes in all types, an advice for the future, to help, to ponder over. One may need advice even thoughone may not show it.In conclusion, Salinger and Shakespeare characterize their protagonists very similar to eachother; teenagers of the 15

th

century were not a lot different from a teenage of the modern era. Tobegin, the chaotic solution for a teenager to handle his/her situation would be fighting. Next, a