"October Sky" and "Catcher in the Rye": Coming of Age

Essay by butterfly12074College, UndergraduateA, May 2007

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When examining the topic of coming-of-age in literature, two books that stand out may include The Catcher in the Rye written by J.D. Salinger and Rocket Boys, or recently named, October Sky written by Homer Hickam. Each of these books briefly follows the life of a teenage boy; Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye and Homer "Sonny" Hickam Jr. in October Sky. While Catcher in the Rye spans only a matter of days in the life of Holden and October Sky spans a few years in the life of Sonny, both stories reveal many characteristics and values about their main characters. Although the stories have very dissimilar settings and the characters in each lead extremely diverse lives, it becomes apparent that Holden and Sonny are two easily comparable individuals with several similar characteristics and a number of very contradicting characteristics. While it is their unique characteristics and their distinct stories that set them apart as individuals in their worlds, it is their characteristics that also make these two young men much like each other in a sense that they are both unique people trying to make it in their flawed environments.

Other than the foremost fact that both of the main characters of the two stories are unique and are trying to get along in their worlds, there are a number of other characteristics that these two individuals share. As religion is a minor topic in both books, the characters both encounter some form of religious occurrence throughout their appearances in the stories. As displayed in each story, neither of the main characters seem to have a true religion that they are committed to. For example, in The Catcher in the Rye, Holden expresses his view on his religion toward the middle of the story. He does...