The Bell Jar and The Catcher in the Rhy

The Bell Jar and The Catcher in the Rhy - Alysse Johnson...

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Alysse Johnson comparison/contrast Paper #2 Consequences of Society vs. Individualism with No Identity Holden Caulfield and Esther Greenwood are two moving characters in two different novels who struggle with confronting the ultimate vision that society believes people should act. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger displays the difficulties that Holden has with society and how he believes that it changes people into phonies. He was afraid of what society would do to him if he let it or people who are conformed by society too close to him or young children like his sister Phoebe. While The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath displays Esther as a young woman who is very smart and conformed to how society wanted her to act until a point. Now she has lost herself because she never had an identity to begin with and she is rejecting the identity that society is labeling her to be and do; to get married and be a mother. The problem is that she has no self to decide what she does want to do before it becomes too late. Both of these novels show how people can lose their identity in society and how either the fear of no identity or the actuality no identity could lead to insanity and suicidal thoughts. The Bell Jar could be considered artistically superior to The Catcher in the Rye in explaining the faults with society on individualism. Esther has a more profound journey than Holden because she has a self as a child then she conforms to society and loses her identity until she realizes she doesn’t want to do what society wants her to, but she has no self to do what she wants. Esther and Holden both have suicidal thoughts in these novels because they feel their lives are no longer worth living. Holden is too afraid of being what his father wants him to be, that if he does what society and his father want then he will lose himself, his identity. He felt that if he did ever conform to society then there would be no point to living because he would be one of the ‘phonies’ he hates so much. This is most likely what happens at the end of The Catcher in the Rye because Holden talks about going back to school, conforming to what his parents want.
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Alysse Johnson comparison/contrast Paper #2 It is also said that he got sick, but not how he got sick and it never mentions if he gets better, possibly losing himself caused his sickness and might have ended in his death. Esther is even worse than Holden, she doesn’t just think about killing herself, she actually attempts to commit suicide on multiple occasions but failed each time. Drowning, slit wrists, hanging, and finally overdosing on sleeping pills are all the ways Esther tried to end her life. She didn’t think that there was any point to living anymore; she had lost her identity and no longer wished to conform to what society wanted of her. She did not know what she wanted to do, so she figured there was nothing she could do; there was no point living her so called meaningless life. The closest she came to ending her life was when she took fifty sleeping pills and hid in her basement crawl
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This note was uploaded on 11/02/2011 for the course ENG 101 taught by Professor Butler during the Spring '11 term at Cardinal Stritch.

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The Bell Jar and The Catcher in the Rhy - Alysse Johnson...

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