The Characters Search for Identity

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Pages 8 (2008 words)
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Both The Catcher in the Rye and The Color Purple present memorable characters who are, in one way or another, alienated from the worlds within which they live. Alienation and dissatisfaction are perhaps the hall-marks of the modern teenager, but in these two novels they are taken to an extreme level.


He is resoundingly negative in his view of the world, and his search for an identity is constantly filtered through his dark condemnation of virtually everything and everyone around him. The facts of his life show that he is unable to stick at anything for very wrong: he drops out of several schools, is hospitalized in a mental hospital, and seems unable to connect with anyone in a meaningful manner. This anomie is associated with two traumatic experiences: the death of his brother and the suicide of boy in one of classes.
Holden searches for an identity through criticizing everyone around him. His word for them, one that has entered the language as a pejorative instantly associated with the character, is that they are all "phony". Virtually everybody that Holden sees around him is phony, and it is a judgment that eventually makes him turn towards himself. He judges people in a superficial way, and uses humor to cover the fact that he realizes how utterly alone he is in the world. The passage in which he imagines that someone will probably write "fuck you"2 on his grave his hilarious and yet deeply revealing. The fact that he would think about his own grave as a teenager, let alone the abuse that someone would write on his headstone, shows that Holden has a more imaginative and deeper view of the world than his resolute condemnations of everyone suggest. ...
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