Catch 22, By Joseph Heller And The Catcher In The Rye, By J.D. Salinger

1719 words - 7 pages

What being an American truly means is a topic that fascinates American authors and readers alike. What composes the American spirit, the American culture, the American identity and the American values are questions many authors answer and nearly all authors answer differently. In the novels Catch 22, by Joseph Heller and The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger the idea of Americanism, is explored in great detail. Each novel features a slightly different insight into what exactly being an American truly means. Through the use of characters and narration, the literary works Catch 22 and The Catcher in the Rye convey what their respective authors believe to be American spirit, American culture, American identity and American values.
The novels Catch 22 and The Catcher in the Rye both convey what their authors believe to be the American spirit, through their characters’ actions and thoughts. In the novel Catch 22, Heller establishes the American spirit as standing up for what one passionately believes in and having a fighting spirit. Yossarian’s fighting spirit and desire to stand up for his beliefs; therefore, showcases the American spirit. At the end of the novel, Yossarian decides to stand up passionately for his beliefs and fearlessly abandon the army. Though this does not initially appear to exemplify the American spirit, the satirical natural of the book creates an environment in which the military is the antagonist and Yossarian is the protagonist. Therefore, though he is fighting authority, Yossarian is truly passionately standing up for fairness and his own life; which is the epitome of the American spirit as described by Heller. While explaining his intentions for leaving, Yossarian states excitedly, “I’m not running away from my responsibilities. I’m running to them. There’s nothing negative about running away to save my life” (Heller 451). In this explanation, Yossarian proves he is willing to boldly fight and fearlessly stand up for his belief; that he is being kept in the army an unfair amount of time, thus proving he embodies the American spirit. The Catcher in the Rye conveys the American spirit in a slightly different way. Throughout the novel, Holden Caulfield attempts to discover where the ducks in Central Park go in the winter; which, through its various contexts, is symbolic of discovering the purpose of life. Salinger establishes the American spirit to be the search and desire for understanding. Near the end of the book Holden walks in Central Park and decides to see if the ducks are there: “I figured I’d go by that little lake and see what the hell the ducks were doing, see if they were around or not” (Salinger 153). He, despite the language he uses, is searching for a purpose in life and because of the authors established definition of the America spirit, Holden Caufield shows the American spirit in his own strange, maniacal way.
Each of the novels Catch 22 and The Catcher in the Rye also display what each author...

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