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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 their adolescent.
Salinger and Plath present this in their novels Catcher in the Rye and
The Bell Jar. Both novelists use first person narrative giving us as
readers a more personal description about their story, involving us
more into their lives and letting us travel with them on their pathway
through adolescent. The tone, dictation and the use of grammar are
consistently those of an adolescent person and express distinctive
commentary on how they feel and what they observe everyday.

Salinger and Plath present the different elements of adolescence that
teenagers experience such as depression, grief, pressure, sexuality
etc through their characters Holden and Esther.

Throughout adolescence teenagers experience a variety of pressures
from their family, friends and even the society. Holden and Esther
both come from adequate families who brought them up well although
this can also mean living up to their expectations. Esther lives up to
different expectations than Holden. Esther’s background was less
promising than others, her mother could not provide her with a good
education it was down the Esther to work really hard at studying to
gain scholarships she places huge pressure on herself to achieve these
goals that she doesn’t know anything else “ I had been inadequate all
along, I simply hadn’t thought about it. The one thing I was good at
was winning scholarships.” Esther can appreciate and understand the
worth of money she thinks about this when she sits at the ‘ladies day’
dinner “Grandma always cooked economy joints, the minute you lifted
the forkful to your mouth, ‘I hope you enjoy that, it cost forty-one
cents.” She realises that if she didn’t have her scholarships she
wouldn’t be given all of these privileges and chances this is what
separates her from the rest of the girls Esther has to study literally
to survive and she doesn’t have the luxury like the rich girls to
enjoy the freedom and miss some classes. Where as Holden Caulfield’s
parents are rich and he can take the advantage of flunking out because
they can just place him in another school, he has pressure from his
parents to do well in Pencey high that’s why he cant face to tell them
that he got kicked out “They’ll be pretty irritated about it, they
really will. This is about the fourth school I’ve gone to.”

Pressures of virginity are expressed in both novels. Esther and Holden
are self conscious about losing their virginity and feel they need to
sleep with someone and gain experience. Holden behaves...

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