Catcher And The Bell Jar - Two Coming Of Age Novels

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade November 2001

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Catcher and The Bell Jar "“ Two Coming of Age Novels While J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye and Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar are two entirely different novels with different themes at first glance, both tell tales of teenagers who are coming of age and learning responsibility. In The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has been kicked out of school and is trying to decide what he wants to do with his life. In The Bell Jar, Esther Greenwood tries to kill herself and is trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life. In both novels, the protagonists are learning to grow up and take responsibility. Both are experiencing difficult situations and are dealing with them. Throughout both novels it can be seen that Holden and Esther are becoming better able to deal with their situations. While both novels deal with coming of age in different manners, the main idea of growing up is shown through the characters struggles to figure out what they want, looking at death, and examining the characters relationships with their parents.

Holden and Esther are both trying to deal with life changing problems in these two novels. Holden has been kicked out of school and is debating running away. Esther is depressed and has been put in an institution after trying to kill herself. While their problems are very different, the thoughts behind them are not. Holden does not really know what he wants to do with his life. His only dream is to become "the catcher in the rye," and this is obviously not something he can do for the rest of his life (Salinger 173). Esther too, does not know what she wants to do with her life. Esther however wants to be everything instead...