This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

A Misfit To Society: An Investigation Of The Common Struggle In Catcher And The Rye And The Bell Jar Between The Sexual Ideals Imposed By Society

2166 words - 9 pages

Society is often the curator of ideals, beliefs, and expectations among a vast number of unquestioning conformist individuals. It dictates a strict set of guidelines of which no one is to venture from, or they risk being labeled as social outcasts. These unwritten social laws affect every single individual, and often conflict with one's own beliefs particularly on the matter of sex, and sex-role stereotyping. Such a criticism is evident in the case of J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, and Sylvia Plath's The Ball Jar. Both of the protagonists in these narratives represent a fundamental struggle by adolescents to comply with their respective gender roles.In the case of Holden Caulfield, the narrator of The Catcher in the Rye, his journey into adulthood requires him to accept his role in society as a "typical" man - a domineering manipulative force. In Holden's view, this means he must shed himself of all innocence, and embrace his sexuality. This closely parallels the views of the protagonist Esther Greenwood in The Bell Jar, as she rejects the idealized image of the traditional female and often compares herself to a bell in a bell jar, where she is suffocated by societal pressures, and she herself is weak and voiceless. Both characters portray these emotions through their anti-establishment and rebellious nature, leaving them to face the consequences of refusing "society's order" in a psychiatric institution because of their refusal to conform to their respective gender stereotypes.Both narrators express their rebellions to their gender stereotypes through the most obvious means possible- sex. "If you want to know the truth, I'm a virgin. I really am. I've had quite a few opportunities to lose my virginity and all, but I've never got around to it yet." (Salinger 92) Holden reveals his sexual innocence by blurting out that he's a virgin during his description of his encounter with Sunny, the prostitute. Whereas the "typical" male, as Holden describes, would see this as an undesirable trait, Holden seems to be quite proud of it. Because of his lack of experience, other characters he encounters in the story seem to shun him, with the interpretation that he is not a "Man" and therefore unfit for society, or clinically insane. One of these characters is Carl Luce who fascinates Holden for he is, as Holden, quotes "One of those very intellectual guys." (Salinger 177) He is knowledgeable in the matter of sex, and it is for this reason Holden patronizes him with questions regarding his sexual relations. Carl Luce accuses Holden of being "immature," for his inexperience, and suggests he visit a psychiatrist. Sunny, the prostitute with whom Holden spends a fair bit of time with, seems to have the same feelings towards him. She is confused, and uncomfortable with the fact that Holden doesn't want to have sex, rather he wants to talk. For this she accuses him of being immature and odd. One can interpret her behaviors towards him as a sign of rejection;...

Find Another Essay On A Misfit to Society: An investigation of the common struggle in Catcher and the Rye and The Bell Jar between the sexual ideals imposed by society

The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger: Society and Its Problematic Education System

1530 words - 6 pages reasons that Holden has a hypocritical attitude, and admires and fixates on innocence, which makes his character an ideal example of a teenager in American society with ignored issues, such as mental illnesses, and is important to recognize for the safety and well-being of teenagers, children, and students in American society. To ensure the well-being of teenagers and the future generations, they cannot be pressured as excessively as they are, because it does not guarantee that teenagers are leading mentally stable and enjoyable lives. Works Cited Salinger, J. D. The Catcher in the Rye. Boston: Little, Brown, 1951. Print.

Differences in style of writing between "The Bell Jar" by Sylvia Plath and "Girl, Interrupted" by Susanna Kaysen

371 words - 2 pages and symbolism which any reader of Plath's poetry would be accustomed to; "Girl, Interrupted" on the other hand is slightly more amatuerishly written. It is worth bearing in mind though that Plath's novel is a literary piece while Kaysen's is an autobiographical piece.Plath's book is essentially a fictional novel however when one draws comparisons between Plath and her heroine Esther Greenwood, it is obvious that "The Bell Jar" is, to a large

Catcher in the Rye Essay: Themes of Society and Growing Up

1392 words - 6 pages Themes of Society and Growing Up in The Catcher in the Rye      In reading J.D. Salinger's novel, The Catcher in the Rye, one is compelled to have a very strong reaction to the contents of the book.  Whether that reaction is negative or positive, it is unquestionable that the reader will give the novel a second thought after reading it.  There could be many reasons why this novel has such an impact on the readers.  It may be the use of

Public Sphere and The Ideals of a Democratic Society

1235 words - 5 pages action. The idea of forming a public body was important to Habermas because it separated the state from the work place, and rejected hierarchy (Habermas 1974, p.49). It promised access to autonomy, inclusivity, and a place to discuss common concerns. Habermas believed that there is a connection between the public sphere and the ideals of a democratic society. In order to have a functioning democratic society, all citizens must be informed and

Comparison between "Tom Sawyer" and "The Catcher in the Rye"

608 words - 2 pages In this essay I’m going to compare and contrast two interesting books: “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger, and “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain. I will analyze the aspects of the lives of the main characters Holden and Tom, and their points of view.” The Catcher in the Rye” is a story about a teenager called Holden. The story takes place in a modern school in the United States. The other

compare and contrast between juno and catcher in the rye

910 words - 4 pages The main protagonists Juno and Holden of movie Juno and the book Catcher in the Rye, have main thing in common, they have not yet accepted the fact they play a role in society, communicating with the people around them, and with their families. Where they differ is in the problems they face. Juno's main problem is that she becomes pregnant at a young age which is considered to be a life changing event by societal standards. The main source of

The following is a compare and contrast essay between the novels "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain and "Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger

1195 words - 5 pages is now in psycothereapy. Holden never got to escape from his world like he wanted to. He is still shakled by the same problems he has been going through in the book. Holden may escaping his world like he wanted to, but he is escaping his problems and his cynicism he has had to deal with through his whole life.There are many comparisons and differences between Huck Finn and The Catcher in the Rye when it comes to the corruption of society. Huck is

"Society as it should have been" A description of the ideal society according to simplistic ideals and ethics

1979 words - 8 pages , to the urgency of population control, proper waste removal, and education standards. A guideline of governing principles would be implemented to follow, a constitution, created by the founders of this society. In order to change, upgrade, or delete aging regulations, a majority vote would be passed by the people, for the people.Each community shall not interfere with a citizen's right to do something unless it infringes upon the rights of others

A comparative essay between THE CATCHER IN THE RYE and GREAT EXPECTATIONS

732 words - 3 pages When analyzing and comparing The Catcher in the Rye and Great Expectations, by J.D. Salinger and Charles Dickens respectively, one usually stops and ponders, what can these two novels possibly have in common? Well I can tell you, quite a lot. To begin with, both are fictional autobiographies, narrated personally by the protagonists, that is Holden and Pip. However, regardless of the fact that they are both narrated in the first person, one

Holden Caulfield’s Struggle in The Catcher in the Rye

2658 words - 11 pages tension between childhood and adulthood. In the novel The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, the main character Holden Caulfield, experiences these tensions of adolescence. Holden’s quandary is he is deadlocked in adolescence, unable to go return to childhood but unwilling to progress forward to adulthood. Because Holden is consumed with the impossible task of preserving the innocence of childhood, so he delays the inevitability of becoming an

Comparison between "Lord of the flies" and "Catcher in the rye"

1014 words - 4 pages Comparison EssayThe two books that I am comparing are The Catcher in the Rye, and Lord of the Flies. The two books are very interesting and are very opposite yet the same in many ways. In The Catcher in the Rye, Holden is an idealistic character who becomes more of a realist as the novel progresses, while in the Lord of the Flies, many characters assume different roles. But the main argument between the two novels is that Holden has a dream job

Similar Essays

Adolescence In The Bell Jar And Catcher In The Rye

5752 words - 23 pages Adolescence in the Bell Jar and Catcher in the Rye Adolescence is the period between puberty and adulthood. Every teenager experience this moment in life differently some sail through happily to carry on with a peaceful life where as others are less fortunate and find that this moment is much more harder and stressful then they thought. Esther Greenwood and Holden Caulfield are one of the less fortunate and have bad experiences through

Catcher And The Bell Jar Two Coming Of Age Novels

1258 words - 5 pages responsibility for what he has done, and to face his parents. He has learned to think about others more than himself. In The Bell Jar, Esther seems to not like her mother at all. She tries to please her and eventually realizes she needs to do what is best for her and stop worrying about her mother. One of the largest differences between these two novels is shown here. Throughout The Catcher in the Rye, Holden begins to realize to take

A Comparison Of Attitudes Towards Life In "The Catcher In The Rye"And "Dead Poet's Society"

1491 words - 6 pages In this world, there are many attitudes towards life that one can possess. This attitude can range from nihilism to ignorant idealism depending on the human being. The works entitled "Dead Poets' Society" and "The Catcher in the Rye" hold a variety of stances on life. However, the novel, "The Catcher in the Rye" mainly paints the mind-set of idealism because it is about an adolescent named Holden Caulfield who is highly idealistic. The novel

The Bell Jar: Changing Gender Roles In Society

1320 words - 5 pages never truly go away and may descend again someday, this implies that although she has now found a way to live in this world, she understands that the world has not changed enough for her to completely be herself.We can see that The Bell Jar portrays a struggle of one woman to find her way in a society which is changing around her. The gender roles of women are slowly changing; with women who are no longer happy to be defined by men and are seeking