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To What Extent Are Holden And Gatsby From The Catcher In The Rye And The Great Gatsby Affected By Symbolism?

1534 words - 7 pages

There is a yearning from both Gatsby and Holden to control time. Gatsby wants to travel back in time, but can’t. To symbolise this, there is a broken clock that he knocks over. “The clock took this moment to tilt dangerously…he caught it with trembling fingers.” The broken clock is symbolic of the fact the he is stuck in the period five years ago when he and Daisy were in love which signifies his inability to move on from that time. It also represents his nervousness about the present and about how Daisy's attitude toward him may have changed. His inability to go back in time is represented by him knocking over Nick's clock, and symbolises the clumsiness of his attempt to stop time and retrieve the past. In addition, the clock is a symbol of the time that Daisy and Gatsby have lost. Although on one level it is just another awkward incident caused by Gatsby's nervousness, the fact the clock is stopped is significant. In a sense, the clock stopped at a specific point in time, trapped there forever, just as Gatsby's life when he was hit with the realisation that while he could never be with Daisy. Gatsby is, in essence, trapped by his dreams of ideal love with Daisy, just as the clock is trapped in that exact moment when it stopped working. The word “time” is written in the book 450 times, showing that time is important not only to Daisy, but to the overall storyline itself. There are flashbacks throughout the novel, with constant references to Gatsby’s past. The unstructured events the reader sees are representative of his mind – scattered and disorganised due to his overwhelming obsession with the past. Whereas Gatsby yearns to travel back in time but can’t, Holden wishes time would freeze. In The Catcher in the Rye, the museum displays represent Holden’s desire to make everything stop and time to freeze so that he doesn't have to grow up. “The best thing though, in that museum, was that everything always stayed where it was.” He is terrified by the unpredictable challenges of the world, and hates change. Furthermore, he says “You ought to be able to stick [certain things] in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone.” The “you ought” suggests that he accepts that no-one can control time, and that although he wants to, he realises that he cannot. In addition to this, he remarks that he is distressed due to the fact that he has changed every time he returns to the museum. “The only thing that would be different would be you.” This implies that Holden wishes to live in a world where nothing ever changes, and everything is simple, understandable, and infinite. There is frequent use of direct address throughout the novel, meaning the book turns into a one-sided conversation, since it is a first person narrative. He uses it because he feels that no-one ever listens to him, and to compensate he addresses the audience. So although both Holden and Gatsby long to control time, Holden’s desire to control time is due to his hatred of change and...

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