Commentary to Text Transformation of Catcher in the Rye and Girl Interrupted

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My text transformation is a collage from the novels ‘Catcher in the Rye’ by J.D. Salinger and ‘Girl Interrupted’ by Susanna Kaysen. The case studies of the two protagonists in the novels, Holden Caulfield and Susanna Kaysen, created the base of my text and I incorporated them into a Children in Need style television appeal. My transformation is for the charity YoungMinds which is dedicated to creating better conditions for youths with a mental health disorder and widening awareness of the illness and therefore reducing prejudice against it.

‘Catcher in the Rye’ is a controversial novel which follows the story of Holden Caulfield  who reflects on the time running up to his nervous breakdown. The controversy attached to the novel demonstrates the stigma of mental health and the attitudes people hold against those with mental health issues. The time frame is only seven days but the memories he divulges to the reader span his seventeen years and give the reader an insight into his mental health problems that have developed over his life.

‘Girl Interrupted’ is a true story of Susanna Kayson’s eighteen month spell in a mental hospital and  in it she describes  the workings and mismanagement of the hospital and its patients. Although autobiographical, it is written as a novel.  ‘Catcher in the Rye’ is also classified as a novel but there is an element of autobiographical writing from Salinger as he had also attended a number of different boarding schools as a teenager. The combination of realistic case studies and teenage protagonists gave me the idea of creating a dramatic documentary in the form of a charity television appeal for youths, particularly teenagers, affected by mental illness.          

I chose to write an exposing piece on the prevalence of mental illness in our society today and the issues that surround it in achieving equality for those who suffer and respect for those who care for and support the unwell. YoungMinds is a genuine mental health charity as a branch of Mind, the adult faction of the charity. Such charity appeals are common such as Children in Need and Comic Relief and although they both address the issue of mental illness, neither represents it wholly and as in depth as this programme of which I have created an extract from.

It is an issue that deserves recognition as I see it as a fundamental flaw in our society. We are able to accept many controversial characteristics in people such as race, religion, homosexuality, and even physical disability. Yet there is no such acceptance for the mentally ill. The stigma attached to this particular form of illness brings disgrace to families and prevents or hinders sufferers from overcoming their problems and fully integrating themselves into normal life.

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Initially, Holden was to be the only case study of a mentally ill teenager, but with the development of the piece I chose to bring in a second character of Susanna. This was in order to create a connection between the two novels and therefore between the illness and their troubles, through the charity. I kept to the idiolect of the characters to help make them recognisable and used both quotes and anecdotes of both characters to narrate the stories told in the respective novels. For example, in the novel ‘Girl Interrupted’ , the chapter ‘Stigmatography makes reference to the difficulties ...

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