The Tortured Road of Adolescence: A comparison of "The Catcher In the Rye" and "Rule of the Bone"

Essay by Patrick@VRAHigh School, 10th gradeB+, September 2007

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The Tortured Road of AdolescencePatrick RoyleCentral to J.D Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye" and Russell Banks "Rule of the Bone" is the theme of change. Both male protagonists - Holden Caulfield and Chappie Dorset - transform, while traversing the tortured path from adolescence to adulthood. Both young men have similar characteristics; and seemingly parallel lives. Both authors portrayal of adolescence follows a pattern: a deep-set urge to protect innocence, providing an image of courage, callousness and compassion that defines the transition to adulthood.

While reading Rule of the Bone, certain themes and symbols were revealed, consistent in both books. Both protagonists hold within them a certain feeling of innocence, which they attempt to protect. Holden Caulfield, the 16 year old protagonist of The Catcher in the Rye alienates himself, in order to preserve not only himself, but his private world. His efforts to protect other people's innocence reflect Chappie Dorset, the protagonist of Rule of the Bone; who seems to have the same mission.

Innocence, by definition is seen as "the lack of experience and maturity", displayed by both characters. Everybody grows older; starting as an innocent child, they grow and gradually shedding their innocence, become mature and experienced adults. Chappie and Bone went through these stages, but instead of shedding their innocence, struggled to hold on to it. Unable to gain a grasp on their innocence, both characters attempted to hold fast the innocence of others, protecting them. Phoebe, Holden's 10 year old sister is still an immature child, whose innocence is what Holden attempts to protect. By preserving Phoebe's innocence, Holden gains the satisfaction he is unable to obtain on his own. Holden is seemingly obsessed with preserving those things innocent. The Museum of Natural History, an important symbol in the book,