J.D. Salinger Vs. S.E. Hinton Essay, Research Paper
Imagine this: you write a novel, and it is banned. All that hard work down the drain. To J.D. Salinger and S.E. Hinton this is not a figment of their imagination. This IS reality. Salinger?s Catcher in The Rye and Hinton?s The Outsiders have been banned in many school districts and public libraries. These two mistreated novels, each of the author?s most famous, are proof of their literary greatness. Their greatness can be found in their literary style. Although these authors are similar in some aspects, they are dissimilar in others.
The first way to compare and contrast Hinton and Salinger is to discuss them as human beings. Jerome David Salinger was born on January 1, 1919, in New York City. He is the son of a Jewish father and an Irish mother, the second of two children. He graduated from Valley Forge Military Academy in 1936, where his I.Q. was recorded as 115. In the next few years he attended sporadically a number of colleges, including New York University, without completing a program for a degree. In 1937-38 he made a brief visit to Austria and Poland in the service of his father?s meat-import business. Shortly after, he found his way into a short-story writing class taught by Whit Burnett Columbia. In 1940, at the age of 21, he published his first story, ?The Young Folks? in Burnett?s Story Magazine. Eleven years later, Salinger published Catcher in The Rye, his most famous novel. In 1955, Salinger married Claire Douglas, and settled in Cornish, New Hampshire; they had a daughter in 1955 and a son in 1960. By the age of 17, Susan Eloise Hinton was a published author. She was born on April 22, 1949, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Since the narrator in The Outsiders was a boy, Hinton?s publishers suggested that she publish under the name of S.E. Hinton; they feared their readers wouldn?t respect a ?macho? story written by a woman. Today Hinton says, ?I don?t mind having two identities; in fact, I like keeping the writer part separate in some ways. And since my alter ego is clearly a 15-year-old boy, having an authorial self that doesn?t suggest a gender is fine with me.? Hinton attended college at the University of Tulsa, studying to be a teacher. ?I don?t have the nerve or physical stamina to teach,? she says. ?I did my student teaching, but I couldn?t leave the kids and their problems behind me; I?d go home and worry about them. I think people who are good teachers do one of the most important jobs there is; I can?t praise them highly enough.? While attending college Hinton met David Inhofe, who became her husband in 1970. They have a son named Nick.
The second avenue of comparison is their storylines, which involve themes of alienated youth. Hinton?s The Outsiders is about a boy named Ponyboy. He has a gang named the Greasers. Ponyboy?s parents died in a car crash, so he doesn?t have any parents, he lives with his two older brothers. Ponyboy?s best friend Johnny killed a gang member named Bob in the other gang(the Socs). The other gang, the Socs, fight Ponyboy and his gang. (This is when Johnny kills Bob.) Ponyboy and Johnny run away, go on a train, and find a church when they get off. They dye each other?s hair so they aren?t recognizable. At the end of the story, Johnny dies in the hospital from saving some kids in a fire. Since Johnny died Dally, one of the Socs, was really mad and went to a store and stole some money. Dally called Ponyboy?s brother and said,?Help me! The cops are coming!? Then Dally ran and was caught by the cops. He shot at the cops, and then the cops shot him dead. (This story seems kind of twisted and ?choppy?, but it?s actually a great book. I love it!) Salinger?s first novel, The Catcher in The Rye, was an immediate success. Narrated in the first person by Holden Caulfield, a 16-year-old boy who is being dismissed from his prep school for academic failure, this story relates the boy?s adventures during three days alone in New York City. Holden attempts to make contact with a number of people, but is disillusioned when he finds them flawed by hypocrisy, cruelty, or ugliness. The only person in whom he can believe is his younger sister Phoebe, who ultimately persuades him not to run away from home. Throughout the story, Holden imagines his own death. For example, after the degrading incident with a hotel pimp and a prostitute, Holden states,?What I really felt like, though, was committing suicide. I felt like jumping out the window. I probably would?ve done it, too if I?d been sure somebody?d cover me up as soon as I landed.? In both stories, the main character dealt with death frequently.
A final comparison criteria is literary reputation of the authors. J.D. Salinger?s work was received more enthusiastically by post-World War II American youth than that of any other writer. S.E. Hinton?s work marked the beginning of a new kind of realism in books written for the young adult market. Both authors are known for writing masterpieces.
In conclusion, it can be seen that J.D. Salinger and S.E. Hinton have similarities as well as dissimilarities. Their diverse styles contributed to their literary greatness. What a tragedy that the works of these literary greats have been banned. It?s no wonder that these two authors live their lives in seclusion. I would too!
* http://www.ramdomhouse.com/teachersbdd/sehi.html (12-1-99)
*Grolier Educational Encyclopedia Americana 1998 (CD ROM)
*American Writers, 1974 Vol.3 (CD ROM)