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Theme Comparison Of The Catcher In The Rye And Franny And Zooey

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The world today is very deceptive and phony. J.D. Salinger’s well known novels, The Catcher in the Rye and Franny and Zooey attack this fake and superficial society which is evident through the lives, ideas, actions, and words expressed by the characters in these literary pieces. The transition from childhood, through adolescence and into adulthood is inevitable. The protagonist of The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield goes through this stage and finds himself in a crisis. He alienates himself from everyone who is around him and tries his best not to grow up. Holden often dwells upon his childhood and the life he had with his family. Franny in Franny and Zooey has already passed this stage but finds it difficult to live in a world where everyone she is surrounded by is only concerned with outward appearances. In these worlds, both characters, Holden and Franny, reveal their struggle of growing up and trying to live as an adult in a world full of deception and shallow-minded people who only care about appearances.

From the protagonists’ point of view, the adult world Holden and Franny are entering and living in is a very superficial place. Holden who is sixteen years of age is going through a time of crisis where he is almost forced to become an adult. This concept is the very thing that makes Holden afraid, causing him to misbehave at school. His latest school, Pencey Prep, expels Holden due to his failing grades. When asked for the reason of his lack of academic enthusiasm, Holden simply states that he is not interested in anything. In every school he has attended, Holden has managed to find different reasons not to care and possibly even hate the institutions.

“I didn’t exactly flunk out or anything. I just quit, sort of. One of the biggest reasons I left Elkton Hills was because I was surrounded by phonies…On Sundays, for instance, old Haas went around shaking hands with everybody’s parents when they drove up to school. I mean if a boy’s mother was sort of fat or corny-looking or something, and if somebody’s father was one of those guys that wear those suits with the big shoulders, then old Haas would shake hands with them and give them a phony smile and then he’d go talk, for maybe half an hour with somebody else’s parents.”

It is obvious that Holden does not want to grow up because he thinks that once he becomes an adult, he will become everything he despises. He is a very judgemental person who analyzes the words and actions of everyone around him. The judgments he makes are always negative and he accuses practically everyone he meets of being phony. The way Holden feels about society is the same way Franny feels. She is dating a man named Lane Coutell, who cares for Franny but his concern for his outward appearance is more important to him. While at the train station waiting for Franny to arrive, Lane tries his best to empty his face of any expression to hide how happy and excited he is to see his girlfriend. However, once Franny sees Lane, she throws her arms around him and kisses him, causing Lane to be a little embarrassed. His dislike for public displays of affection with Franny occurs again when Franny faints in a restaurant. He needs to make sure that no one is watching before he strokes her arm to comfort her. Franny’s brother, Zooey, believes that Lane is a phony. “He’s a charm boy and a fake… If he’s worried about Franny at all, I’ll lay all odds it’s for the crummiest reasons.” Franny also expresses contempt toward her egotistical and phony religion professor, who she claims to pretend to be charming. Both Holden and Franny are surrounded by fakes and liars in their lives which cause their disbelief in the adult, real world.

Filled with contempt for the society of fakes and phonies, Holden and Franny turn to different elements in their lives to find some sort of comfort. Holden deeply searches for this in his family relationships and with girls he is attracted to. Throughout the course of the novel, Holden comes across many girls he likes. In one of his many encounters, Holden dances with one girl that he claims he is “half in love with”. They dance and he tries to engage in conversation with her but she is not interested in Holden. Instead, what is truly on her mind is her eagerness to find celebrities at the club they are at. Holden is frustrated with her yet he still likes her because of her physical attributes and dancing skills. The only person that Holden truly loves and has a deep connection with is his ten year old sister, Phoebe. Despite the fact that she is six years younger than him, she is the only person who understands him. She wants to help her brother out greatly because she is genuinely concerned for him. When Phoebe asks Holden what he wants to do with his life, he claims he wants to be a catcher in the rye, hence the title of the novel. “I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s aroundвЂ"nobody big, except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff.” This reveals that he wants to save all children from entering adulthood. Holden is desperately trying to hold on to his youth and often reminisces about his childhood in the same way that Phoebe does. However, unlike Holden, Phoebe understands that maturing into an adult is a necessary process of life. Phoebe’s unconditional love for Holden is the one thing that keeps him going. Family is also an important element for Franny. In her family, Franny and her brothers are much more gifted and intelligent than her parents. Yet they keep reminding each other that their parents must be loved and respected for everything they are and everything they have given their children. In the second part of Franny and Zooey, Franny is undergoing a crisis. Much of what sets off Franny's breakdown is her dissatisfaction with the experience she is having at college. She hates both herself and others for the egotistical behaviour and phony conformity in which they all engage. It is Franny’s brother, Zooey, who helps her with her problems and gives her advice and words of encouragement.



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