Catcher in the Rye Essay

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‘THE CATCHER IN THE RYE’ AND ‘IGBY GOES DOWN’ – NON-CONFORMITY

Both J.D Salinger’s 1951 Bildungsroman novel The Catcher in the Rye and Burr Steer’s film Igby Goes Down, demonstrate that regardless of context, the youth will choose not to conform to socially held values. We can see that this is the manifestation of the vulnerability and hesitation experienced as adolescents like us grow up. Ultimately both these texts explore the search for identity and individualism as a cause for non-conformity. The Catcher in the Rye was written during a post war era and a time of drastic social change. However, many of its conservative values remained and most importantly, the notion of youth conformity was held in high regard. On the other hand, Igby Goes Down is set in the 1980s -1990’s American era, a time of expanding multi national corporations, materialism and commercialism. Salinger and Steers utilise the characterisation of their young, sardonic and rebellious protagonists, Holden and Igby to epitomise non-conformity. The composers allude to the recurring theme of isolation and alienation in both texts. As a result of their non-conformity, the protagonists experience rejection and depression as they search for their selfhood. Similarly, the national ethos of the American Dream is explored as a mere fallacy, and both composers portray this through their protagonist’s wealthy backgrounds and opulent upbringings and yet money doesn’t bring them happiness. Salinger, through literary devices and Steers, through cinematic techniques effectively convey that youth will always refuse to conform regardless of context because conforming denies individuality.

Salinger in his novel The Catcher in The Rye explores the ideas of non-conformity in association with Holden Caulfield’s isolation and alienation. The 1950’s Conservative American context demanded adolescents such as Holden…...

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