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from misfit to Catcher In The Rye

The forthcoming of American literature proposes two distinct Realistic
novels portraying characters which are tested with a plethora of adventures.
In this essay, two great American novels are compared: The Adventures of
Huck Finn by Mark Twain and The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger. The
Adventures of Huck Finn is a novel based on the adventures of a boy named
Huck Finn, who along with a slave, Jim, make their way along the
Mississippi River during the Nineteenth Century. The Catcher In The Rye is
a novel about a young man called Holden Caulfield, who travels from Pencey
Prep to New York City struggling with his own neurotic problems. These two
novels can be compared using the Cosmogonic Cycle with both literal and
symbolic interpretations.
The Cosmogonic Cycle is a name for a universal and archetypal situation.
There are six parts that make up the cycle: the call to adventure, the
threshold crossing, the road of trials, the supreme test, a flight or a
flee, and finally a return. There are more parts they do not necessarily
fall into the same order, examples of these are symbolic death and motifs.
The Cosmogonic Cycle is an interesting way to interpret literature because
is Universal or correlates with any time period and any situation.
The Call to Adventure is the first of the Cosmogonic Cycle. It is the
actual call to adventure that one receives to begin the cycle. There are
many ways that this is found in literature including going by desire, by
chance, by abduction, and by being lured by an outside force. In The
Adventures of Huck Finn, Huck is forced with the dilemma of whether to stay
with his father and continue to be abused or to leave. Huck goes because
he desires to begin his journey. In The Catcher In The Rye, Holden
mentally is torn between experience and innocence, it would seem to him
that an outside force is luring him to do something but in actuality he is
beginning his journey because of his desire. The Call to Adventure is the
first step in the Cosmogonic Cycle, it is the step at which the character
or hero is brought into cycle.
The Threshold Crossing is the second step, it is the place or the
person that which the character crosses over or through into the Zone
Unknown. The Zone Unknown being the place where the journey takes place.
The threshold crossing is often associated with a character change or an
appearance change. An example of this is in The Wizard of Oz, when the
movie goes from black and white to color, showing a visual symbolic death.
A symbolic death is another part to the Cosmogonic Cycle of which the
character goes through a change and emerges a more complete person or more
experienced. In The Adventures of Huck Finn, a symbolic death is very
apparent during the scene in which Huck sets up his father's cabin to look
like Huck was brutally murder. Huck emerges as a runway child and now must
be careful of what he does, so that he does not get caught. Huck also
tells people false aliases for himself so that no one knows his true
identity. Every time that he does this he is symbolically dying and
reemerges a more experienced person. In The Catcher In The Rye, Holden
also uses fake names, but Holden symbolically dies through fainting,
changing the position of his red hunting hat, and is associated with
bathrooms. The bathroom motif, or the reoccurring appearance of a bathroom,
symbolizes death for Holden because he enters bathrooms with a neurotic and
pragmatic frame of mind and exits with a cleared mind. The use of symbolic
death and motifs is associated with the Threshold Crossing, the second step
of the Cosmogonic Cycle.
The Road of Trials is the next step in the Cosmogonic Cycle, which are
the obstacles which the character faces throughout the literary work. In
The Adventures of Huck Finn, Huck's Road of Trials occurs on the
Mississippi River. He faces many obstacles, including moral decisions of
right and wrong, dealing with con-artists, and helping a runaway slave. He
promulgates more experienced from his journey down the river on his raft.
In The Catcher In The Rye, Holden's Road of Trials takes from Pencey Prep
to New York City. Holden deals with his own mental hallucinations,
cognative disotience, and his desire to stay innocence, his Peter Pan
complex. The author does not end the novel with a happy ending, from
analyzing Holden's experiences ... more

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J.D. Salinger

J.D. Salinger

Jerome David Salinger, known as J.D., is an American short story writer and novelist. He was born on January 1, 1919 and is still alive at the age of 81. J.D. Salinger was born and raised in Manhattan. He went to prep school at Valley Forge Military Academy from 1934-1936. He spent 5 months in Europe when he was 18 or 19 years old. Then, in 1937 and 1938 he studied at Ursinus College and New York University. From 1939 to 1942, he went to Columbia University where he decided to become a writer. Salinger published short story collections and one novel. His best known work, The Catcher in the Rye, was published in 1951. The short stories he wrote were "Nine Stories" in 1953, "Franny and Zooey" in 1961, "Raise High the Roofbeams, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction" in 1963, "Young Folk" in 1940 and "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" in 1948. Many critics have considered J.D. Salinger a very controversial writer because of the subject matters he wrote about. For example Salinger wrote about religion, intellectuals, emotional struggles of adolescents, loneliness and symbolism (Jones).

Some critics feel his writing was inappropriate because of the topics he wrote about. The main characters were considered misfits of society. The characters generally did not fit in with traditional American culture. They could not adjust to the real world. However, Salingers most successful stories are the ones about people who could not adjust. The super-intelligent humans who had to choose between the American culture at that time and the moral world, or choose between the "phony" real world and the morally "pure" world. Salinger creates these misfits, as heroes who do not fit into society. They struggle between the two worlds shallow and moral. The leading characters are on a mission of happiness. At first, Salinger does not lead the characters to material happiness; he has them start out in a bad situation. By the time they make it through the end of the story they have changed for the better. One of these characters that he writes about in this situation is Holden Caufield in The Catcher in the Rye. He starts off in a bad situation because he has just flunked out of his third private boarding school. He finally gives up life on his own in Manhattan and returns home in solitude where he finds happiness. The critics found these situations that the characters were in debatable (Hamilton 113).

In "Franny and Zooey," Franny and Zooey Glass are an example of Salingers misfit characters of the 60s. They are brother and sister who are super-intelligent freaks and cannot deal with society or reality. The controversy comes when they must chose between Salingers two worlds the real or phony. Their older brothers teach them Zen Buddhism and many other religions and philosophies. Salinger uses this religious theme with these two characters to show how they have to deal with their world of religion and how they have to stop using religion to deal with their problems (Green). This religious theme was a controversial one for the author. Salinger often uses religion for comfort. He leads his characters on a journey for happiness through religion. It is a way to free them. Salinger uses much of the Zen philosophy to attain this freedom. The Zen Philosophy was a new sect of Buddhism that came out of China. It promoted Meditation as the way to personal fulfillment ("Zen" 146).

One of Salingers characters in "Nine Stories" has a certain philosophy about life that runs parallel to the Eightfold Path used in the Buddhism religion. The Eightfold Path is one of the four Noble Truths. It is a path to the suppression of suffering and it is made up of eight parts that form the cornerstone of the Buddhist faith. Buddha wanted to be liberated in his life just like the character in Salingers work who eventually achieves nirvana, the ultimate goal of the Buddhist path, by committing suicide. In this way, he lets go of all the suffering and attains happiness. It is a controversial way to view happiness. Religion is a force in the story to create happiness. Many times the ... more

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