Comparative Analysis of A Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

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It is amazing that two completely different characters could not only be faced with an identical dilemma, but also both react in such comparable ways. The resemblance of the characters’ struggles because of alienation in the popular novels The Catcher in the Rye and Speak is astonishing. Alienation can be caused by many factors and result in many consequences. But it is interesting how the situations individuals face can be quite similar. Within Salinger’s novel, The Catcher in the Rye, and Anderson’s novel, Speak, both protagonists are alienated by those around them. As a result, they must endure the negative effects of this isolation and, ultimately it leads both these individuals to alienate themselves. The alienation experienced by the main characters of The Catcher in the Rye and Speak are alike in the fact that they are alienated by similar types of people, and for the same reasons. Holden and Melinda are both alienated by their peers. They do not fit in to any of the groups amongst the adolescents their age. The feeling of being isolated is shown in Holden’s quote, “Everybody sticks together in these dirty little goddam cliques. The guys that are on the basketball team stick together, the Catholics stick together, [...]” (Salinger, 170) and again in Melinda’s quote, “We fall into clans: Jocks, Country Clubbers, [...] I am clanless” (Anderson, 14). Their statements are so similar that there is no doubt they are being tortured with the same feelings of loneliness from being isolated. The two characters are alienated for the same reasons: they both do not know how to properly function within society. They were not properly educated in socialization; therefore do not fit in amongst the others their age. Holden demonstrates his ... ... middle of paper ... ...nderson, 107). The novels demonstrate that humans react to alienation by choosing to alienate themselves rather than allow others to alienate them. The protagonists intentionally withdrew themselves from society before society could hurt them by denying them acceptance. They equally fear rejection which is common among human kind. The theme of alienation has been depicted by two different characters in a resembling series of events. The two protagonists were alienated by their peers, inflicting negative consequences they must undergo. Both characters are finally pushed to alienating themselves rather than being alienated. In conclusion, the struggles both characters undergo are practically identical to one another. They have experienced alienation in such similar ways that you must ask yourself: are all those who suffer from alienation alike in more ways than one?

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