• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Rather than being a flaw of The Cement Garden, ambiguity of character and authorial intention actually makes for a more satisfying reader experience than the obvious and over-repeated insights Salinger gives us into Holden(TM)s mind.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

"Rather than being a flaw of The Cement Garden, ambiguity of character and authorial intention actually makes for a more satisfying reader experience than the obvious and over-repeated insights Salinger gives us into Holden's mind." Discuss, with close comparison of the writers' techniques in The Catcher in the Rye and The Cement Garden. When compared to the psychologically revealing account of Salinger's "artless" colloquial narrator, Holden Caulfield, the detached, non-committal narrative of The Cement Garden could well be a flaw in McEwan's technique as it potentially detracts from the realism of Jack's ambiguous character and often seems to alienate the reader. Indeed, The Catcher in the Rye is addressed directly to the reader through frequent deployment of the personal pronoun 'you' and parts of Holden's narrative are frequently italicized to communicate the intensity of his feelings regarding the 'phoniness' of adulthood and all it entails, ('you never know where the h**l you are [with s*x]'). He also frequently uses colloquial phrases like 'it killed me' and 'I go crazy', the negative content of which ironically reveals the neurosis generated by his brother Allie's death, and this self-revelatory subtext undeniably helps to create reader empathy. Similarly, psychological associations (like not wanting to mar the symbolic snow in Chapter 5 as it is 'so nice and white') and the repetition of apparent non-sequiturs in the narrative concerning Jane Gallagher's vulnerability (such digressions revealing his desire to protect her from both her 'booze-hound' of a father (Chapter 11) ...read more.

Middle

In this regard, Chapter 6 of The Cement Garden features a flashback to an occasion when Jack's parents had left the children alone in the house while they attended a funeral, this situation being a parallel to the present lack of parental guidance. The similarity between past and present shows the persistence of Jack's adverse circumstances and elicits sympathy as he is subject to this stagnant lifestyle. It is placed at the beginning of Part 2 to echo the mother's death in Part 1 and prefigure the amoral effect that parentless conditions will have upon Jack, McEwan subtly achieving realism by portraying his past as well as implying a future. Comparatively in Chapter 11 of Salinger's novel Holden's narrative shifts to a description of his early childhood with Jane Gallagher, who he was 'never worried' with. With her, he says, 'All you knew was, you were happy'. The contrast between this idealistic language of a 'happy' past and Holden's 'lonesome and depressed' state on returning to the present in Chapter 12 once again demonstrates his obsession with innocence and childhood through obvious manipulation of tone and highlights the theme of transition within the novel; here also he resists maturity as it makes him 'depressed', the repetitive nature of Holden's frequent reflections on Jane and the past construably rendering his account implausibly digressive (unlike McEwan's more rigidly chronological tale), disrupting the reader's interest and comprehension of the main plotline by interpolating predictably similar memories. Other meanings contained within McEwan's structure also serve a revelatory purpose, the subtle progression of implications and justifications seeming more successful than Salinger's obvious intrusions and disordered chronology. ...read more.

Conclusion

Furthermore, as Jack is shown to seek maturity he is as realistic and empathetic as Holden- perhaps more, as the reader may identify with McEwan's fundamental theme of growing up, portrayed as successful (unlike Holden's transition) through Jack awakening from his metaphorical 'dream'. Salinger's symbolism primarily serves to repeat information, relaying the same message on all levels of textual communication, whereas McEwan employs this method to emphasize an important aspect of Jack's character as he is not forthcoming himself, and to lead the reader's perception past the taboo of incest. Overall, then, McEwan's message emerges effectively despite the ambiguity of his novel, which may even be considered to contribute to a 'more satisfying' reader experience. Jack is presented as real within an exceptional situation, his ambiguous nature utilized to involve the reader in his experiences and develop their understanding of him through McEwan's technique instead, the conclusion leaving the reader satisfied at the possibility of a successful transition into adulthood which has been suspended due to his environment and the initially negative figure of his father. Salinger's message is contrastingly delivered too often, these obvious reiterations- while effectively demonstrating the repetitions of Holden's fixated mind - perhaps even 'predictable and boring' (Ernest Jones, 1951), and on the whole a less satisfying reader experience than The Cement Garden's subtle revelations. Words - 2, 642 1 'artless' characters 'are telling a story to the meaning of which they are not entirely privy' (Alan Bennet, Intro to Talking Heads (1987)) ?? ?? ?? ?? Dana Archer Eng Lit CWK A2 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Other Criticism & Comparison section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Other Criticism & Comparison essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Innocence and Experience in "Atonement" and "The Go-Between"

    5 star(s)

    reality of the adult world and leave their childhood fantasies behind: "Now that I was thirteen I was under an obligation to look reality in the face," "Goodbye to make-believe!" Briony similarly renounces her simplistic fairytales for "the real, the adult world in which frogs do not address princesses" in

  2. Marked by a teacher

    The English Patient

    5 star(s)

    Yet, he too encompasses works that are marginally metafictional by proposing that, "to see the dramatized narrator or novelist as metanarrative devices is to interpret a substantial proportion of fiction as meta-fiction"(4). Despite the subtle differences between their definitions, most theorists agree that metafiction cannot be classified as a genre nor as the definitive mode of postmodern fiction.

  1. How are women portrayed in The Millers Tale, The Handmaids Tale, and The Crucible?

    She also tells John Proctor at the end of the play that she is partly to blame for his cheating, since she admits to being a cold wife (being not s******y responsive) who could have treated him a lot better.

  2. Compare and contrast the ways Margret Atwood and William Blake present the power of ...

    Christian spokeswoman Joyce Meyer has said ?Instead of being critical of people in authority over you and envious of their position, be happy you're not responsible for everything they have to do. Overwhelm them with encouragement and appreciation!?[6] This is not dissimilar to the attitude of the aunts in terms

  1. The spiritual and intangible world is central to Romanticism, yet real world experience is ...

    The duality of imagination which results in its ephemeral nature is also explored in the poem La Belle Dame sans Merci. The poems central theme revolves around the extremities of the intangible world manifested in imagination, and its ability to both elevate and weaken the individual.

  2. Explore the theme of trauma in The Bell Jar and Regeneration

    In the book, this scene offers the reader a detailed insight into Prior?s thoughts and feelings on the build up to him losing his voice. However in the 1997 film directed by Gillies Mackinnon, the visual elements play an important role in the audiences? understanding of the effects that the

  1. Why "The Catcher In The Rye" Was Controversial

    ?Oh, Romeo and Juliet! Lovely! Didn?t you just love it?? She certainly didn?t sound much like a nun.? (Salinger, 111)

  2. How do the writers present sexuality and gender in Tales Of Ovid, Streetcar Named ...

    private life, while clearly a strand in his work, was never a central theme and certainly never defended or promoted, neither publically nor politically. He seems to use Blanche as an expression of a conflict which clearly existed between his morality and sexuality, never to be resolved and never aired

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work