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Stream of Consciousness in Faulkner’s Barn Burning, All the Dead Pilots, and Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye

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How does an author paint a vivid picture of a character’s thoughts? The answer is stream of consciousness. Faulkner and Salinger both used this literary technique but suited it their individual tastes. The purpose of this paper on the comparison of the use of stream of consciousness in the works of two American authors, William Faulkner and J.D. Salinger, is to define stream of consciousness, explain the use of it in Faulkner’s “Barn Burning,” “All the Dead Pilots,” and Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, compare the stream of consciousness in both writers’ literary work, and examine the influence their writing had on others.
Faulkner and Salinger are equally responsible for the exponential growth of stream of consciousness. This effective method of peering inside of a character’s head adds great depth to a story. Stream of consciousness is a means of understanding a character’s thought process and actions simultaneously. While a character is performing actions and absorbing surroundings, thought flows through his or her mind mimicking the mind of a real person.
The term “interior monologue” is sometimes used interchangeably with “stream of consciousness,” although some people claim the words do not have the same meaning. They claim that “stream of consciousness” is a kind of fiction. (Barton and Hudson, 210) Interior monologue is a narrative technique that displays the multi-faceted movement of rational and irrational thoughts and ideas not constrained by syntax, grammar, and sensible transitions. There are two types: indirect and direct interior monologue. In indirect interior monologue, the narrator sometimes interjects a flow of ideas (Barton and Hudson, 209). Direct interior monologue, however, is through the first ...


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Faulkner, William. Collected Stories of William Faulkner. 1st Vintage
Books Edition. New York: Random House, Inc., 1977. Print.

Kerr, Christine, and Harold Bloom. Bloom’s How to Write About J.D.
Salinger. New York: Bloom’s Literary Criticism, 2008. Print.

McCort, Dennis. “Hyakujo’s Geese, Amban’s Doughnuts and Rilke’s
Carrousel: Sources East and West for Salinger’s Catcher.” Bloom’s Literature. Facts on File, Inc. Web. 30 Sept. 2013.

Quinn, Edward. “Interior Monologue.” Literary and Thematic Terms.
New York: Facts on File. 2006.

Priddy, Anna. “‘Barn Burning.’” Bloom’s Literature. Facts on File,
Inc. Web 30 Sept. 2013.

Salinger, J.D. The Catcher in the Rye. New York: Bantam, 1951. Print.
Faulkner, William. “All the Dead Pilots.” Random House, Inc. New
York City: 1959. Language and Literature Resource Guide. United States Academic Decathlon.




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