J.D. Salinger's Catcher In The Rye and Burr Steers' Igby Goes Down

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Comparative Essay

The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger and Igby Goes Down by Burr Steers are both displayed as rites of passage texts. The respective protagonists of these two texts are Igby Slocumb and Holden Caulfield. These two characters are both on a journey motif, a journey of self discovery in which they both attempt to find meaning in life and understand societies values and attitudes. The two protagonists demonstrate non-conformity and rebel against the apparent hypocrisy present in their respective societies. Hypocrisy can be defined as the difference between illusion and reality, in accordance to society it can be seen as people who are not who they appear to be, people who apply a façade. This hypocrisy is present in schools, families, and in people’s values and relationships. Igby’s non-conformist behaviour is evident through his values and beliefs, his appearance, wardrobe and lighting present whilst viewing the text. Whereas Holden’s rebellion is demonstrated through symbolism throughout the text, stream of consciousness and his ideals. Holden and Igby are both on existential journeys, in which they desire to find their place in society.

The hypocrisy present in the corresponding texts of The Catcher In The Rye and Igby Goes Down is manifested through Holden’s ideals and Igby’s values and beliefs. The language of Igby clearly reveals how he feels towards the concept of hypocrisy, he despises it. Holden loathes people who he says are phony or fake. Igby’s hate of hypocrisy can be exhibited through this quote “The captain of the morality team invites his chic to the same party as his wife…” and then later on “embrace your moral hypocrisy, D.H., go for it.”. D.H. is Igby’s godfather/father and is often seen as Igby’s lifeline back into society, D.H. is presented as a wealthy, honest and hard-working man but this is just a façade which Igby peals away to reveal the true form of D.H., a fake. These two quotations confirm the way Igby detests the hypocrisy of society, this time evident in a relationship. Holden displays his hate for hypocrisy by the way he is forever commenting on how people are phony and how they put on a façade. There are many instances in which Holden explores his animosity towards phonies, for instance he often comments on why the people are applauding a musical performance and cannot understand why people would desire to ...

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...is quote demonstrates how Holden portrays himself as the protector of childhood innocence from the phoniness and hypocrisy of the adult world. This fantasy reflects his innocence, his belief in pure, uncorrupted youth, and his desire to protect that spirit; but on the other hand, it represents his extreme disconnection from reality and his naive view of the world. Holden’s disconnection form society is shown through stream of consciousness but Igby’s is presented through his language. Igby is forever swearing and cursing at the hypocrisy in the society surrounding him. This from of rebellion is Igby’s most shown non-conformist behaviour. It demonstrates to the responder that Igby is a violent child and has been disaffected. Igby does not make the most of his opportunities, he lives in a bizarre environment and is experiencing a tough emotional journey.

Holden and Igby are both rebellious, non-conformist youth who express the need for individuality and companionship, a somewhat paradoxical statement. They despise materialistic values and hypocrisy. They believe that they should be the ones who will save the innocence of children from the phoniness and hypocrisy of the adult world.
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