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The protagonists in Franz Kafkas The Metamorphosis and J.D. Salingers The Catcher in the Rye, are both outcasts in their very small worlds.

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Introduction

"The Downfall of the Protagonist in The Metamorphosis and The Catcher in the Rye" The protagonists in Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis and J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, are both outcasts in their very small worlds. Living his days supporting his family by being a travelling salesman, Gregor wastes his life away. Then, "One morning, when [he wakes] from troubled dreams, [he finds] himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin" (Kafka 5). From this moment on, he exists only to be shunned and ignored by his whole family. Similarly, Holden is cast out of his third prep school: Pencey. Instead of returning home, he loses himself in New York City where he tries to discover where he fits in. He knows he can not return home because his family views him as a failure and has no place with people his own age because he lacks the social skills to maintain their friendships. By looking at the responses of the protagonists in The Metamorphosis and The Catcher in the Rye, we can see how society and its expectations can force an unusual individual to become suppressed and shunned as an outcast. ...read more.

Middle

In the end, Gregor's "entire body [aches] "and "he [can] no longer move at all" (Kafka 67). Then, "without his willing it, his head sinks down completely, and his last breath flows weakly from his nostrils' (Kafka 68). Gregor Samsa stays a human up until his last moments when he "[thinks] back to his family with emotion and love" (Kafka 68). His family however, cannot see this compassion; all they can see is a wretched, monstrous, bug that wastes away in their house. As this deformed man and outcast (Gregor) is found dead in his room, the family is relieved. Mr. Samsa even says "let's give thanks to God for that" (Kafka 69). The inhumane and unfair treatment of a creature that cannot control what happens to him shows how unforgiving society can really be. Appearance and performance is the only important element in society, and when one cannot appear well or perform to their maximum capacity, they are treated as thus: diminished and worthless. Holden Caulfield, an emotional and sensitive sixteen year-old, cannot seem to fit in anywhere. At a time in his life where many young adults struggle with the fundamental issues facing them in an adult world, Holden is shut out of his school, banned from home, and friendless. ...read more.

Conclusion

Society's increasing judgment of differing individuals has not helped to improve those individuals that are being judged. 'Different' people are the target of most judgment and this has only helped to hinder and destroy them. Gregor and Holden are classic examples of both ways people are judged in everyday society. Gregor is stripped of any and every semblance of humanity, while Holden is so mentally detached from the world around him that no one can understand him. Society's only form of self defense it to shut those out who do not belong. Therefore, Gregor and Holden do not belong. The suppression Gregor's family puts him under causes him to lose many of his human thoughts as well as his ability to move. He simply wastes away until he dies. After his death, his family is happy to see him go. Holden is similarly alienated from those around him because he lacks the social skills to fit in and make himself happy enough to stay in school. Due to his 'different' way of thinking, he is cast out and becomes depressed to the point of wanting to kill himself. The downfall of both of these protagonists shows how great an affect treating someone with disdain and ridicule can have. In this instance, it kills one individual and mentally scars another. ...read more.

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