The Catcher and the Rye/ A Separate Peace Compare and Contrast EssayA Separate Peace, written by John Knowles, and the Catcher in the Rye, written by J.D. Salinger, both gives the readers an in depth perspective of the lives of teenage boys as they were confused in their thoughts, struggling throughout the novel to find something that’ll make them a better human being. The purpose of this comparison between both of the novels is to specify the various ways the main characters in both stories, which are the teenage boys, handle the challenges that they faced and how they coped with them. In both stories, the authors gives the reader a first person point of view to demonstrate the lives of the teenage characters.
This makes it easier for someone to get a feel on how the teenagers in both novels felt and to get their point of view on the situations they encountered throughout the story. The times in which both stories took place effects how each character thinks and feels about something. This along with many other things, creates the personality of each character throughout their adolescent lives. In both the Catcher in the Rye and a Separate Peace, the storyline takes place in an all boys school.
In the novel the Catcher in the Rye, the school in which Holden attended was Pencey Prep,a school located right in Agerstown, Pennsylvania. In the novel, “the Catcher in the Rye”, the authors states, “Pencey Prep is the school that’s in Agerstown, Pennsylvania.”(Salinger 1). In the novel, a Separate Peace, the school in which Gene and Phineas attended was named Devon High School, located in New Hampshire.
In the novel, “a Separate Peace”, the author states, “Devon luckily had very little of such weather-the icy clamp of winter, or the radiant New Hampshire summers, were more characteristic of it-but this day it blew wet, moody gusts all around me.”(Knowles 1). Although the characters from both novels attended a single gender school, the storyline of the novels took time in different times of history. In the Catcher in the Rye, the storyline took place after World War II in the 1950s while in the novel, a Separate Peace, the story happened during the war. Since the time periods in which both novels took place are different, it will cause the teenage boys to have different attitudes and feelings throughout both stories. This makes both novels differentiate from one another.
Life for Holden, the main character in the Catcher in the Rye, was quite difficult and depressing. It all began to go downhill when Holden was failing four out of five of his classes. Holden wasn’t really interested in school because he felt that it was not for him. In the novel, “the Catcher in the Rye”, Holden is asked by old Spencer, “How many subjects did you carry this term?” Holden responded, “Five, sir.” Spencer then asked, “Five. And how many are you failing in?” Holden responded, “Four.
“(Salinger 6). This shows to the readers that Holden’s interest in school was very low because of the grades he was earning. Phineas, one of the characters in the novel, a Separate Peace, was somewhat like Holden because Phineas himself wasn’t doing well academically because of his strong interest in sports.
In the novel, “a Separate Peace”, Gene states, “But while he was a very poor student I was a pretty good athlete, and when everything was thrown into the scales they would in the end tilt definitely toward me.”(Knowles 25). This shows that Phineas was an academically poor student because his best friend Gene tells us and therefore Phineas and Holden are related in a way. On the other hand, Gene, the other teenage boy in the novel, a Separate Peace, who’s suffering from anxiety and guilt, is better academically than Holden and Phineas. In the novel, “a Separate Peace”, Gene states, “I could see through that. I was more and more certainly becoming the best student in the school; Phineas was without question the best athlete, so in that way we were even.”(Knowles 25).
This shows the confidence and certainty that Gene has about how well he is doing academically and it shows that Phineas was a great athlete.In the novel, the Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield struggles to get a hold of himself because of the depression he has, while in the novel, a Separate Peace, Gene Forrester has a hard time coping with anxiety and guilt. The reason behind Holden depression is the fact that he no longer has his younger brother, Allie, with him because he died. This makes Holden isolated from society and it makes him dishearten.
This along with many other factors in the story helps create his personality and way of thinking throughout the novel. In the novel, a Separate Peace, Holden’s reason for being anxious and guilty is because he can’t handle the guilt he has from pushing his best friend, Phineas, off a tree causing him to fall to the ground and breaking his leg. The problems and challenges they were experiencing helps create irony to the story and it develops the thought process of each one of the characters. Since the teenage boys were going through rough times, they had to do something to help them cope with their problems. In the Catcher in the Rye, Holden’s ways of forgetting about depression is by sexual intimidations, going out and drinking alcohol, and his awful attitude. An example of Holden trying to runaway from his depression is when he tries to call over a women, so that they’ll have sexual interactions. In the novel, “the Catcher in the Rye”, Holden says, “I was feeling pretty horny.
I have to admit it.”(Salinger 34). Then he goes on to say, “She used to be a burlesque stripper or something. Anyway, I went over to the phone and have her a buzz.”(Salinger 35). The attempts of Holden to get the women on the phone and try to get her to come over to have sexual interactions with him is a sign of him trying to run away from his depression. In the novel, a Separate Peace, Gene tries to get rid of his guilt by attempting to admit to Phineas that he was responsible for his accident.
In the novel, Gene tells Phineas, “I don’t care who I sound like, and you won’t think so when I tell you. This is the worst thing in the world, and I’m sorry and I hate to tell you but I’ve got to tell you.”(Knowles 32). This shows that Gene feels guilty for what had happened to Phineas and that he wanted to get it off his shoulders but he failed to tell him because the doctor came in before he was able to. These examples show how both Gene and Holden try to run away from their situation and how they both wanted to forget about them.The way the characters handle their situations plays an important part in how their personalities develop throughout the storyline.
There are many factors that contribute to their personalities and another one of these things are the clothes that they wear and what they symbolize about them. The things they wore weren’t like the things people wore in their time, they were different. The clothing that they wore showed that they didn’t care about what society had to say about them and it gave them confidence. In the Catcher in the Rye, Holden wore a hat which people made fun of all the times. However, it didn’t stop him from wearing it because he ignored all the hatred towards it and wearing it made him feel comfortable and it’s something he admires. In a Separate Peace, Phineas wore a pink shirt.
In the novel, he stated, “Is going to be my emblem. Ma sent it up last week.”(Knowles 9). Gene then stated,”He did wear it. No one else in the school could have done so without some risk of having it torn from his back.”(Knowles 9). This proves to the readers that Phineas didn’t really care about what society thought about his pink shirt, which is categorized as a girly color in our society, and it shows the level of confidence in Phineas. Both Holden and Phineas felt that what society had to say about them didn’t really have an toll on them.
In the Catcher in the Rye, Holden shows that he is isolated from society due to the fact that he is antisocial. In the novel, Holden attitude is always bipolar and it’s all because he is suffering from depression. In the novel, old Spencer states, “Life is a game, boy. Life is a game that one plays according to the rules.
“(Salinger 5). Holden’s responded, “Yes, sir. I know it is. I know it.” “Game my a**. Some game. If you get on the other side, where there aren’t any hot- shots, then it’s a game all right- I’ll admit that but if you get on the other side, where there aren’t any hot-shots, then what’s a game about it? Nothing. No game.
“(Salinger 5). This supports the claim that Holden is isolated from society all because of the depression in his life. On the other hand, Gene and Phineas were not antisocial. In fact, they are apart of a group called the Super Suicide Society. In the novel, Gene states, “The Super Suicide Society of the Summer Session was a success from the start. That night Finny began to talk abstractedly about it, as though it were a venerable, entrenched institution of the Devon School.
The half-dozen friends who were there in our room listening began to bring up small questions on details without ever quite saying that they had never heard of such a club.”(Knowles 13). “We began to meet every night to initiate them.
“(Knowles 13). This shows that Holden and Phineas weren’t antisocial nor isolated from society because they were apart of a club with a couple of their friends and they would meet up often. Toward the end of both novels, Holden and Gene are ashamed of what they encountered and experienced because it drove them crazy. In the Catcher in the Rye, when Holden walks up a set of stairs to go delivery a note he wrote to his sister, Phoebe, to the principal’s office at Phoebe’s school, he see on the wall a four-letter word.
It drove him crazy when he seen it. In the novel, Holden states, “While I was walking up the stairs, though, all of a sudden I thought I was going to puke again. Only, I didn’t. I sat down for a second, and then I felt better.
But while I was sitting down, I saw something that drove me crazy. Somebody’d written “F**k you” on the wall. It drove me damn near crazy.
“(Salinger 108). This shows that when Holden had seen the bad words written on the wall, it drove him crazy because he wouldn’t want his little sister to see it and try to figure out what it means. In the novel a Separate Peace, Gene is ashamed of himself because he felt that if he hadn’t of push Phineas out of the tree in the start, he wouldn’t of been suffering a second leg injury. When Phineas broke his leg the second time he had to get a surgery and during his surgery, Phineas had sadly passed away because bone marrow got into his bloodstream and into his heart. The guiltiness he got from Phineas death drove him crazy.
He blamed himself for the death of Phineas. In the passage, Gene says, “I could not escape a feeling that this was my own funeral, and you do not cry in that case.”(Knowles 105). This shows that Gene’s guiltiness drove him crazy and that it had a heavy impact on him.In the Catcher in the Rye and a Separate Peace, J.
D. Salinger and John Knowles, the authors of the novels, gave the readers the message they tried to convey by narrating it through the lives of the adolescent boys. Some of the most important messages the author tries to give to us in the novel, the Catcher in the Rye, is to be patient, to stop thinking about the wrong things, and to appreciate what you have. The author conveys these messages by giving us the perspective of Holden throughout the story.
An example of Holden not appreciating what he has is when he tries to leave his family and the people he knew to go someplace else to start a whole new life but he forgot that he had a sister who loved him. In the novel, Holden’s sister, Phoebe, asked Holden, “Did you mean it what you said? You really aren’t going away anywhere? Areyou really going home afterwards?” Holden responded and said, “Yeah.”(Salinger 114). This shows that Holden was to quick to do things and that he didn’t open his eyes and realize that he had a sister who loved him. In a Separate Peace, the author message to readers is to search for your identity and your purpose for being alive. In the novel, Gene struggles to recognize what he wants to do because of his friendship with Phineas. He doesn’t know what he really wants to do.
Another message the author shows is that envy between two best friends can make friendships feel quite competitive. Gene and Phineas wanted each other to succeed but, at the same time one wanted more success than the other. In the novel, Holden stated, “You are both coldly driving ahead for yourselves alone.
You did hate him for breaking that school swimming record, but so what? He hated you for getting an A in every course but one last term. You would have had an A in that one except for him. Except for him.”(Knowles 24). This shows the jealousy and competition between both of them. Throughout the Catcher in the Rye, Holden’s attitude, actions, and mindset helped develop his personality throughout the novel.
Through Holden’s point of view, the author was able to give the readers a clear view of Holden’s actions and personality. Like the Catcher in the Rye, the author of a Separate Peace was able to give readers Gene’s personality and feelings towards things he faced in the story and his friendship with Phineas. To sum it all up, both of the novels can be relatable to the social events going on in our society and in our personal lives. The authors of both novels use elements such as point of view, settings, character/characterization, theme, plot, and conflicts to demonstrate the lives of the teenage boys who try identify themselves and their personalities.In conclusion, the reason behind the comparison of the novels, the Catcher in the Rye and a Separate Peace, is to specify the key differences and similarities between both novels. Although they may appear differently, both novels have significant similarities. Both of the novels have teenage boys who are struggling to get a hold of themselves because of the feelings they have.
In the novels, the actions the teenagers take to cope with their feelings differentiate from one another. The different ways both Gene And Holden cope with problems like the ones they faced in the story helped with the development of their personalities.Works CitedSalinger, J.
D. The Catcher in the Rye. Boston: Little Brown and Company, 1945. Web. Knowles, John. A Separate Peace. Philadelphia:Chelsea House Publishers, 2000.