Response to "The Catcher In The Rye" by J. D. Salinger

Essay by FobManXCollege, UndergraduateC, October 2007

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When I start reading a new book, what I usually end up doing is comparing it to the last book I read. So as I read through The Catcher in the Rye, I kept mental notes on how it compared and contrasted with The Sun Also Rises. I did not expect the comparisons to be all that favorable, but I was shocked as to how well the two stories related through just the first few chapters.

Similar to Jake Barnes in SAR, Holden is very isolated and is more of an observer than an active participant in his social structure. They both have feelings that they keep deep down inside of them. Holden is constantly talking about how much he hates fake people and how much they rot the world, but does not outwardly make these thoughts public. Holden also does things that he does not enjoy. While Jake would always go to parties and dance despite his displeasures, Holden goes to the movies with his friends despite clearly stating his hatred for them early in the text.

They are both very lost and conflicted in their respective worlds. Even though the time periods and settings were very different; Jake in post-war Europe and Holden in a 1950s boarding school, how they live, act, and react are very much alike.

There are other characters in the two texts that share attributes. The most obvious is Ackley, Holden's slob of a neighbor. Ackley has a lot in common with Robert Cohn in that they are both very different from Holden and Jake and neither is looked at in a positive light. Jake is annoyed by Cohn's romanticism and pursuit of unrealistic goals, while Holden just hates how Ackley lives such an unhygienic lifestyle. Both Cohn and Ackley always bother...