Analytical Comparison- Theme of rejection in Huck Finn and Catcher in the Rye

Authors Avatar by jennycolebournhotmailcouk (student)

AS English Literature and Language

The Analytical Comparison - The Theme of Rejection

The extract from The Catcher in the Rye by Salinger consists of the protagonist ‘Holden’ catching a train from Pencey, the school he’s just been kicked out of, to New York. On the train he speaks to a schoolmate’s mother and creates a new personality under the name of ‘Rudolf Schmidt’. The extract is an example of how Holden rejects society and his opinion of himself. By confidentially and continually lying about his own name, his opinion on a schoolmate and many other details, it’s one of the first obvious cases of Holden’s bleak self-perception. Holden goes about lying in a way that suggests it’s fun for him, as he says he starts “shooting the old crap around”. I chose this extract because it is, in my opinion, a perfect illustration of Holden’s immense rejection of himself and society. The extract from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain involves the protagonist ‘Huckleberry’ going into a town to find information about the situation he’s in. He also tries to obtain the gossip of what’s going on around the ‘murder’ of Huck and the disappearance of Jim. In order to do this, they decide that Huck should dress up as a girl named “Sarah Mary Williams”. Huck’s nerves and improvised attempt at being a girl is spotted near-enough straight away, saying that he “shook like a leaf”. Again, this is a perfect example of Huck rejecting himself and society’s rules, except he approaches it in a more childlike-way.

Both extracts are exemplary of the theme of rejection and there are many examples of different interpretations of the word ‘rejection’ throughout both extracts. The most obvious form of rejection in both of these extracts is the fact that they’re both lying about their identities. In Holden’s case, his new and adult alter-ego Rudolf Schmidt may be a form of self-protection or a way to feel superior to the “bastards” around him; both of these reasons seem more heavy than Huck’s comic plan to find out information from a village, yet Holden often lies for entertainment and personal reasons, whereas Huck only lies when it’s for the greater benefit of others and himself. In Catcher, the adjective “conscientious” is one of many of Holden’s more advanced words. Holden’s lying may be perceived as a rejection to his immaturity, so using words from a more technical vocabulary could be interpreted as an example of Holden’s attraction to majority and intelligence. Huckleberry’s “afeared” response and feeling “cornered” by the situation highlights the age difference and his naivety in lying to this scale. Huck’s vocabulary is much more limited than Holden’s because of the setting of the novel and his age, so his choice of words is restricted yet still more developed than many people around him. He uses more intellectual words, which are correctly spelt, such as “comfortable”. This highlights a similarity to Holden as they are both attempting to reject stupidity and unintelligence as they choose their words.

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Both extracts are structured similarly around the form of rejection. The first part of each extract is where the character of each novel begins to form their lie. Huck’s “M-Mary Williams” and Holden’s “Rudolf Schmidt” are both revealed to the reader and the other person in the conversation in the first part of both extracts. Holden has more control over his lies as he’s the one that’s causing it to progress, solely for entertainment purposes and his rejection of society’s rules is by choice and to simply humour himself.  Huck on the other hand has no control over where his ...

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