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Catch In Rye And Life Of Pi English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 951 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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In J.D. Salinger The Catcher in the Rye and Yann Martel’s Life of Pi both characters have not fully frown up, although Pi is much more mature than Holden Caulfield, They both have not found that utter serenity that makes them feel complete. Holden looks for this through materialistic things such as money, alcohol and sex while Pi desires to understand the totality of who God really is.

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The first theme I would like to discuss is death. Death is the termination of someone or something. The death in someone can cause a lot of pain, suffering and a change in the way someone acts, Pi’s family dies in the shipwreck. This made him feel really lonely that’s why he anthropomorphized each animal to fit the role of the members of his family that way he didn’t feel like they were completely gone. In Catcher in the Rye it is the death of his brother which fuels his desire to save children from growing up and becoming corrupt. Holden uses his brother as a model for innocence. His brother that died he had a huge role on him it causes him to rage all the time he smashed out windows of a garage, breaking his hand in the process. Being in the hospital after this event caused his to miss the funeral which adds more pain. He thinks about his brother continuously throughout the book and has a glove and red hat to remember him by.

The second theme I would like to discuss is faith. Faith is the confident belief or trust in the trustworthiness of a person, concept or thing. Pi has so much faith in God while Holden has so little faith in humanity. Pi, while stranded in the ocean had faith in god and had faith he was going to be found. Without faith, Pi’s fate would have been very interesting and not the same as it ended. While Pi is in the lifeboat, Martel hardly ever describes him thinking about God. The first mention is in chapter 53.  Pi is hopeless, and facing the realization that he will most likely die. But then a voice in his head says that he will survive, he will not die, “as long as God is with me, I will not die. Amen (Martel, pg. 231).”  This resolves him, and he starts planning for survival, instead of moping or cowering in fear. His faith helped him to create that alternate reality.  He was prone to believing great stories, based on faith, and that helped him to believe his own.  He also prayed every day on the raft, had a firm grasp of what forgiveness meant, and didn’t feel alone because of his faith.  It enabled him to make it through his ordeals without feeling totally alone and desolate. On the other hand in The Catcher in the Rye, Holden has so little faith in humanity. Holden throughout the whole novel differs from society which results in his rebellious nature. Holden does not have any friends and cannot keep relationships. This is because he finds and exaggerates the negative aspects of all the people he knows or meets. This can be seen when Holden cannot keep his relationship with his girlfriend Sally. He can’t communicate with anyone and feels that the only person he can even relate to is his sister Phoebe. Holden cannot function as a normal part of society because of his hatred towards all “phonies”, which he believes everyone to be, an example from the novel is, “Even the couple of nice teachers on the faculty, they were phonies, too,” (Martel, pg. 168). Holden believes that these phonies are people who try to be something that they are not. Usually the mark of a phony is the desire for material goods. This is because people usually want these possessions in order to impress others and become something they are not. He has his sister who is the only positive guidance he listens to and on the other hand his older brother D.B. is a prime example of a phony. This is because D.B. was a writer, who became a playwright in order to gain more public recognition. But although Holden spends so much energy searching for phoniness in others, he never directly observes his own phoniness. His deceptions are generally pointless and cruel and he notes that he is a compulsive liar. For example, on the train to New York, he perpetrates a mean-spirited and needless prank on Mrs. Morrow who is the mother of Ernest Morrow a student who attends Pencey prep with Holden. He tells her “Old Ernie,” I said. “He’s one of the most popular boys at Pencey. Did you know that?” (Martel, pg. 56). Right after stating “Her son was doubt less the biggest bastard that ever went to Pencey, in the whole crumby history of the school. He was always going down the corridor, after he’d had a shower, snappy his soggy old wet towel at people’s asses.” That’s exactly the kind of a guy he was” (Martel, pg. 54). Also telling more lies to entertain his mother and make her feel proud of her son at the same time amusing himself.

The third theme I would like to discuss is failure. Failure refers to the state of not meeting a desirable or intended objective set by an individual. In Life of Pi, Pi and his family failed to start a new life to make it to Canada. Instead his parents died when the ship shank and his life put on hold for 127 days on a lifeboat. Holden continually sets himself up for failure, and then wears it like a badge of courage. He fails in every encounter with other people in the book with the exception of Phoebe. Why would he want to fail? Failure serves as a great attention-getting device. And perhaps, more than anything, Holden wants attention from his parents, the absent characters in the book. What Holden really longs for, most likely, is acceptance and love.


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