Young adult literature analysis - Huck Finn, Holes, Catcher in the Rye

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Candidate 18

Dr. Hanssen

American Studies SP172L

November 23. 2011

Assignment 1: A common theme

The novels we’ve read in the category young adult fiction circles around teenagers. Teenagers go through big changes not only physically but also mentally; they develop their sense of morality and sense of self pride, as well as broadening their perspective of the world. In other words they start growing up, and this is what we find in these stories, stories of teenagers growing up. There are stories of young adults finding their moral limit, finding yourself without your friends, learning what you believe in and seeing a new side of people. I short the common theme in the novels we’ve read this year is: a personal growth when facing the real world. The differences in the actions our protagonists make at the beginning and ending of the stories show their developed really well.

In “the adventures of Huckleberry Finn” there is one decision Huck makes at two points in the story, to go to Hell, but he does it for two very different reasons, the first time because the widow is going to heaven.

“Then she told me all about the bad place, and I said I wished I was there. She got mad, then, but I didn’t mean no harm […] She was going to live so as to go to the good place. Well, I couldn’t see no advantage in going where she was going, so I made up my mind I wouldn’t try for it” (Twain 12)

At this point Huck acts from the thoughts of a child. He’s acting from a place of ignorance and thoughtlessness. The second time he says he’s going to hell he has thought it trough and he’s going there because he’s not going to give up is friend. He would rather spend an eternity in hell than to give up Jim.
“I studied for a minute, sort of holding my breath, and than says to myself: “all right then I’ll go to hell” – and I tore it up” (Twain 208)

This is one of the biggest moments showing Hucks personal growth; he has realized that he is responsible for the consequences of his actions. And he decides what kind of person he wants to be.  

Moving on to “Catcher in the Rye” we meet a narrow minded, shallow and judgmental anti-hero narrator; Holden Caulfield. Who leaves school early and goes to New York. He is by himself and trough the experiences he gets in New York he has some realizations. He realizes that there is something he will strive to be, “the catcher in the rye” he wants to protect other children from the traumas that he has had. He wants to help children keep the innocence he was deprived of. Holden is very taken with the innocence of a child and that it has been take from him. Jane Gallagher reminds him of his childhood, a carefree time and he remembers it fondly, and perhaps this is why he wants to become the catcher in the rye. There is a limit to how much a person can change/grow-up in three days. So Holden does not drastically change during these three days but if we compeer the beginning and ending of “Catcher in the rye” we see that Holden has grown up by the fact that he goes from dismissing everyone, alienating himself and not really caring whether he sees them again to a state where he admits that he misses them. At the very end of the book he says “Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do you start missing everybody”(Salinger 277) suggesting that that if you tell someone your story it becomes real and you have to think about it. He has realized that the people in his life has had an effect on him, and he will miss having them around.

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In the story of “Holes” our protagonist changes when after arriving to Camp Green Lake, “His muscles and hands weren't the only parts of his body that had toughened over the past several weeks. His heart had hardened as well.» (Sachar)  It shows that Stanley is dealing with the situation he is in like most of the other boys at the camp, he puts himself first. So when Zero then asks him to teach him to read Stanley declines this off because he has to save his energy for himself, he shows no sympathy for Zero. But when Zero helps ...

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