The Rite of Passage in The Catcher in the Rye

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 11th grade February 2008

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and A Separate Peace The rite of passage, according to Encarta, is an event or act that marks a significant transition in a human life usually referring to adulthood (Online 1). In many Indian tribes, ceremonies were held for youths trying to pass a series of tests in order to become an adult, many times the tests? involve a display of physical prowess. In Western Civilization reaching a rite of passage into adulthood can occur in many ways. The young adult must achieve an understanding about ones self and the community around him. However, this level of maturity is rarely reached without suffering emotional pain or confusion (Helfand/Bliss 1). In both A Separate Peace and The Catcher in the Rye the main characters, Gene and Holden, experience great emotional trauma and confusion as they attempt to make the rite of passage into adulthood.

In the book The Catcher in the RyeHolden Caulfield is expelled from Pencey Prep because of his failing grades, however, he does not want to confront his parents immediately after getting expelled, instead he decides to go to New York for three days to allow the news of him getting expelled to sink in with his parents.

In New York, Holden struggles to find himself amongst a world of adults. His confusion and misconceptions of how an adult acts sets him on course for an emotional breakdown.

In A Separate Peace Gene attends Devon Prep School with Finny, his best friend and roommate during World War II. Gene is a brilliant student and good athlete who admires Finny for his incredible athleticism and his unique personality. Gene believes he is in competition with Finny. Gene is a good athlete and has the best grades in his class and Finny is the best athlete but barely gets...