The American Landscape Of Literature Essay

2096 words - 8 pages

The authors J.D Salinger and Joseph Heller have created novels that depict the American landscape based on spirit, culture, identity and values. American spirit is defined through rebellion in both novels. J.D Salinger captures rebellion through Holden’s refusal to go with the flow of society, and Joseph Heller shows rebellion using Yossarian to capture rebellion by his ideals that it is better to survive then fight in a war while most Americans uphold the belief that it is an honor to sacrifice oneself for one’s country. The essence of American culture is portrayed in the novels by the loose meaning of love in that era. Both authors define the loose meaning of love through the multiple lovers both Holden and Yossarian obtain, as well as the lack of seriousness used when stating they are in love. J.D Salinger defines the American identity of individualism through Holden’s desire to make his own decisions and choose his own fate. Joseph Heller uses Yossarian to describe the American identity of independence because of his want to be free of the war and all the hardships it brings. Finally the American values are defined by J.D Salinger and Joseph Heller through Holden’s concern for a person’s inner being, and Yossarian’s concern for self-preservation. Through the development of the characters Holden and Yossarian, the novels Catcher in the Rye and Catch-22 capture the meaning of being an American through spirit, culture, identity and value’s.
The Catcher in the Rye and Catch-22 are novels which equally capture the essence of rebellion in the entirety of the American spirit. Salinger demonstrates the American spirit through teenage rebellion arising from the needs of truth and security in life. The protagonist, Holden, creates this picture of rebellion when relating to his teacher why he is un-phased by his failure to remain in any school, “One of the biggest reasons I left Elkton Hills was because I was surrounded by phonies. That’s all. They were coming in the goddam window”(13). J.D Salinger defines the American spirit by means of rebellion. Rebellion can be used to define someone as an American through its repeated pattern through history. Holden portrays this form of American spirit by standing up for his beliefs as well as not putting up with anyone else’s deceit. The “phonies” Holden refers to are the people who have a weak spirit and cannot stand up for themselves and revert to excuses in their place. Holden’s views transform with his opinions on rebellion, his thoughts shift to different views but he always opposes the normal flow of American ideals. The American spirit is upheld in Catch-22 as well through Yossarian’s rebellion towards fight the war; “That men would die was a matter of necessity; which men would die, though, was a matter of circumstance, and Yossarian was willing to be a victim of anything but circumstance”(68). Yossarian’s character depicts rebellion by his complete refusal to fight in the war for his fear of death....

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