The coming of age novels, The Catcher in the Rye, written by J.D. Salinger, and A Separate Peace, written by John Knowles, both interpret the lives of adolescent boys journeying through their conflicts and inner confusion to reach the level of maturity. Salinger and Knowles both discern the literal ways a typical teenager grows up with the help of literary elements such as plot, setting, character development, conflicts, irony, symobolism, theme, and point of view.
In both of the novels, the setting is taken place in an all boys’ school. The all boys’ school in A Separate Peace was named Devon High School, located in New Hampshire and the school in The Catcher in the Rye was named Pencey Prep, located in New York. By having both main characters being raised in a same type setting, they both can experience similarities that they might have to go through. However, each novel was set in a different timeline. A Separate Peace was actually written during the time of World War II, while The Catcher in the Rye was written after World War II. As a result, different time periods probably differentiated their lifestyles, which can produce unlike conflicts that the teenage boys might encounter.
The protagonists in A Separate Peace, Gene Forrester, and The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Claufield, make them coming of age novels by the struggles that they come across as they grow up into becoming mature, adult like men. Gene Forrester attains his maturity by dealing through the confusion he has from cooperating with his best friend, Finny, and the guilt he inherits as he blames himself responsible for Finny’s death. On the contrary, Holden Claufield, in The Catcher in the Rye, illustrates his attainment of maturity by growing with the depression he possesses and his alienation from the people in the novel.
The battle of Gene with himself and Holden with himself creates the similar major conflicts between the novels. In this case, Holden has it much more difficult in The Catcher in the Rye because he has to struggle with a great depression and he constantly tries to escape it through drinking, sexual intimations, his awful attitude, and attempts of being out going after he leaves Pencey Prep early. The cause of this depression is the death of his younger brother Ally. In the novel, he describes that h...
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...p between Gene and Finny. On the other hand, J.D. Salinger’s theme in The Catcher in the Rye was developing through adolescence with depression and confusion in your life. Through the point of view of Holden’s place, his attitude and experience he went through discerned that stress was a big issue to him and struggling through depression as a teen and achieving maturity from it is something the most of us could relate to. Overall, both of the themes in the novels have something to do with social events in our lives and both of the themes became interesting appeals.
J.D. Salinger and John Knowles both accomplished their description of their protagonists reaching their level of maturity through literary elements. They provided excellent examples of a teen growing up; and A Separate Peace and The Catcher in the Rye have at least one moral that one can rely on. In conclusion, the conflicts in the stories were things that I could actually relate to and I can expect to experience the same things that the characters experienced.
Knowles, John. A Separate Peace
Holt, Rineheart and Winston, 1960
Salinger, J.D. The Catcher in the Rye
New York: Bantan books 1951
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