Review: The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

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Zachary Crandall
Mrs. Dietrich
English 11 Honors-9/10°
11 October. 2011
In the novels One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey and The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, there is a strong central focus of the challenges faced by having an alternative outlook on society by which is normally perceived by the majority of people. Both novels share a character that is an outcast in society due to several factors such as insanity, ignorance, and negligence. These two characters speak in first person narrative telling the reader about their life in the past years. In One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, this character is Chief Bromden, a psychiatric patient in a hospital telling the story of a man named McMurphy, who enters the ward and gradually begins to create altercations with “Big Nurse” Ratched and tries to break the “fog” around the patients. The Catcher in the Rye is the story of Holden Caulfield, a 16-year-old boy also speaking from an institution, telling us his tale of the events following being kicked out of another school. Both narrators speak of society gone wrong, and although the characters partially know that they are not “normal” they each have enough perseverance to change for the better.

Chief Bromden is the son of the chief of the Columbia Indians and a white woman. He has been in the ward longer than any other patient, and suffers greatly from paranoia and hallucinations. With his low self-esteem and apprehensiveness towards other patients, Bromden lives most of his time at the ward being bullied and tormented. He sees modern society as a huge, oppressive conglomeration that he calls the combine. “Yes. This is what I know. The ward is a factory for the Combine. It's for fixing up mistakes made in the neighborhoods and in the schools and in the churches, the hospital is. When a completed product goes back out into society, all fixed up good as new, better than new sometimes, it brings joy to the Big Nurse's heart” (Kesey 40)....
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