Comparison Of Two Salinger Novels Essay, Research Paper
The World Sucks
Two of the greatest novels for the hate-filled and the pessimist are The Catcher In The Rye and Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger. In The Catcher In The Rye, Holden Caulfield, a young delinquent, shows his views to the reader during the four days before the start of Christmas vacation. During the four days he is plagued by the obscenities of New York and consumed with his dilemma of running away or going home and facing the bitter sting of his parents hands. His final choice is made with the assistance of his younger sister, Phoebe. In the other novel, Franny and Zooey, the two youngest of seven children, are plagued with their egotistical society, which they are forced to endure due to their higher education. They leash out at the world through their conversations with those they trust. In the end Franny has a nervous breakdown and her brother, Zooey is there to help her to recovery. In The Catcher in the Rye and Franny and Zooey, J.D. Salinger uses the point of view of Holden, Franny, and Zooey along with the setting of New York to show the theme of the world is full of phonies and uncivilized morons.
One element that is apparent throughout J.D. Salinger s novels is the way he views the world through the way he uses his characters to describe the way they feel about the world and certain things they witness through life. Salinger s main observance is that the world is full of phonies and egotistical nitwits. In The Catcher In The Rye, this is displayed when Salinger uses Holden Caulfield s excuse for leaving his school, Elkton Hills, because of all the phonies there, even the headmaster, Mr. Haas, [he] was the phoniest bastard I ever met in my life. On Sundays, for instance, old Haas went around shaking hands with everybody s parents when they drove up to school. He d be charming as hell and all. Except if some boy had little old funny-looking parents. 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 very big shoulders and corny black-and-white shoes, then old Haas would just shake hands with them and give them a phony smile and then he d go talk, for maybe a half an hour, with somebody else s parents. I can t stand that stuff. It drives me crazy. It makes me so depressed I go crazy. I hated that goddam Elkton Hills (Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye 13-14). Everywhere Holden goes, he discovers that he is surrounded by people who are only pretending to appear as they do. He finds this to be the biggest problem with the world, and refuses to get caught in the unrealistic attitudes that people often show. He is an adolescent nauseated by the grossness of the world s body, may be the characteristic hero of contemporary fiction and the modern world to many…Holden is an embodiment of their secret terrors and their accumulated hostilities, their slender joys and their magnified agonies (Miller 551). Holden s simple truths speak deeply to many and by him just coming out and saying what many think turns him into a person in which great admiration by many is deserved. Even ones brother is one of the unworthy, like Franny s brother, Zooey, who s completely destructive…One minute he launches this all out attack on the Jesus Prayer which [Franny] happen to be interested in making you think you re some kind of neurotic nitwit for even being interested in it (Salinger, Franny and Zooey190). Many of the nitwits in society are the way they are because they do not take the time to understand the things they do not yet understand; instead, they immediately feel the need to mock it because it is strange. Before this Salinger has always presented madness as a special temptation of males; perhaps because, in the myth he was elaborating, it is a female image of innocence that, at the last moment, lures his almost-lost protagonists back from the brink of insanity: a little girl typically, pre-pubescent and therefore immune to the world’s evil, which, in his work, fully nubile women tend to embody (Fielder 1). In the past the women has always been presented as the innocent and the savior. However, in Franny, Salinger shows that not all people are what we perceive them as. The most innocent can be the most evil. It is a world of deception that we live in and many are blind to see the truth. These are the truths Salinger display in many of his novels especially in The Catcher In The Rye and Franny and Zooey.
To skillfully show the interactions of the people of the world, Salinger chooses New York to be the place at which his stories occur, a place where the diversity of people is immense. By choosing New York, he makes these events seem realistic because many of these things did not occur anywhere else in the 50 s and 60 s. Not just in New York, but in the whole world you can t find a place that s nice and peaceful, because there isn t any. You may think there is, but once you get there, when you re not looking, somebody ll sneak up and write fuck you right under your noses. Try it sometimes. I think, even if I ever die, and they stick me in a cemetery, and I have a tombstone and all…right under my name it ll say Fuck you. I am positive in fact (Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye 183). The setting of New York allows Holden to successfully say this because of the fame that New York is recognized is for the muggers on the streets and the annoyance of cab drivers and drunkards. Only in New York does such surroundings exist. The story takes place in New York but The Catcher in the Rye could take place almost anywhere in the United States. That s because the true setting of the book is in Holden s mind (Claro 13). Even though the setting is New York, which is important but at the same time it is unimportant because everything that Holden expresses, which makes up the book, is in his own thoughts and emotions towards the events that happen to him. However, certain events that take place would not occur anywhere else during these times. No matter where one is, simply take a look around your college campus, and the world, and politics, and one season of summer stock, and you listen to the conversation of a bunch of nitwit college students, and you decide that everyone s ego, ego, ego (Salinger, Franny and Zooey 167). No matter where one is present, people s appearance are not of their true selves. Everything said and done is accomplished in order to fool others into believing that someone is smart, civilized, or even friendly. For better or for worse, a significant number of sensitive young Americans live in a world in which the classroom and the football game provide customary arenas for anguish and joy, love and death; and to that world, Salinger has been more faithful than it perhaps deserves (Fielder 1). Salinger attempts to downplay the tragedies of the world by setting part of his stories in a school, where the tragedies of the real world are kept out in order to raise happy little drones that are inept towards the real emotions of death and love. The setting is very important to one book and not so much in the other, but Salinger uses the setting to show that, even though they both take place in the same city, both novels experience very different things of the world.
Through their collective suffering, J.D. Salinger skillfully shows that we live in a world of deception with cruel and uncivilized citizens living in it, with the center of it all being New York. In The Catcher In The Rye, Holden Caulfield aces all the phonies and in Franny and Zooey, the two children experience all the uncivilized people in it, both must learn to live with these in their lives. To lay this down for the reader, Salinger sets it in New York to show that people in the same places experience different things, but are all suffering in their present existence. These are the truths that one must live with, and to fight it, is to waste ones life in a never ending war where there are no winners.