"Catcher in the Rye" vs. "About a Boy"

Essay by stansz April 2006

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The novels "Catcher in the Rye", and "About a Boy", are fundamentally very similar. They are very similar in theme, style, and setting; however, they also have fundamental differences. Nevertheless, the theme of isolation in the two novels is very similar.

The theme is the most similar in these books. In "Catcher in the Rye", the protagonist Holden Caulfield is a teenager who isolates himself from the rest of the world; because he believes everything is "phony". "The reason I was way up on Thomsen Hill, instead of down at the game, was because I'd just got back from New York with the fencing team......I left all the foild and equipment on the goddam subway" (Salinger page 2); this quote shows that Holden Caulfield physically isolates himself, and his feelings, because he does not associate with anyone. Will, the protagonist in About a Boy, also isolates himself from the world, because his beliefs are that everyone man is a bubble, "You had to live in your own bubble.

You couldn't force your way into someone else's, because it wouldn't be a bubble any more" (Hornby page 69); by this Will means that everyone is suppose to be alone, and isolated from everyone else. Another major recurring theme is the theme of the oppressing society. Holden Caulfield expresses through his views of all the phony aspects of his private schools. Will does this by surrounding himself with artificial items, such as his fast car, his nice flat, and all his "toys". In the end, the final theme that readers notice is the maturity of adults, and teens. Will in the end, accepts other people into his life, and he matures greatly, he is no longer artificial, and is enjoying life again. However, Holden Caulfield does not mature...