The novels The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger and Ordinary People by Judith Guest are very comparable in a way; the two novels demonstrate the daily obstacles that teenagers have to overcome. In The Catcher in the Rye it is shown to us that Holden Caulfield is trying to overcome depression and in Ordinary People it is shown to us that Conrad Jarrett gets accepted by his family members and peers again and finds happiness after his depression. The loss of a sibling can have a big impact and similar effects on two different people’s lives, such as Holden Caulfield and Conrad Jarrett. Their thoughts and actions that they make are much influenced by their peers, parents or guardians, and female relationship in their lives.
To begin with, in The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield does not have good relationship with his peers and instead he mainly criticizes them by thinking everyone around him is “phony”. For instance, since Holden is a “protector of innocence” he wanted to protect Jane, who is a girl that he once liked from Stradlater trying to do sexual intercourse, resulting into a fight. “… [a]ll I know is I got up from the bed, like I was going down to the can or something, and then I tried to sock him, with all my might” (Salinger 43). This proves that through alienation Holden cannot get his feelings out quick enough which causes action to happen. Not only Holden uses violence to express his emotions but also Conrad Jarrett in the novel Ordinary People does the same. This can be shown when Conrad decides to attend a school swim-meet after school. As the meet ends, Conrad’s see his friends and as usual, Kevin Stillman begins to give Conrad a tough time, asking him about Jeannine. Conrad loses control and snaps by attacking Stillman “… [t]he sound shattering the parking lot, the red brick wall of building behind him, the white doors, gray cement - all dissolving into broken bits of color, heading swiftly toward him as he slam his fist, hard, against that face” (Guest 143). After this conflict, Conrad realizes that he has always thought the loss of his brother only as it affects him. Next, this brings us to the theme of isolation in the context of peer relationships. In The Catcher in the Rye, Holden isolates himself from his peers. He relies on his isolation to maintain his detachment from the world and self-protection; he even often sabotages his own attempts to end loneliness. For instance, he calls out Sally Hayes for a date and urges her to run away with him to Massachusetts or Vermont, when Sally rejects him, he displays rude behavior as he states to her “[y]ou give me a royal pain in the ass, if you want to know the truth” (Salinger 133). On the other hand, Conrad opposes two types of characteristic in line with depression: a lack of feeling and a tendency towards isolation. Accordingly, Conrad creates an imaginary block between him and his peers. When he is alone, he would pull up onto his bed and “blocking out the sharp arrows of sun that pierce through the window” (Guest 10). In this way, he hides his unwanted emotions and feelings from his peers by being isolated. With the isolation between the two characters, they also lead into becoming anti-social with their peers. It is evident in The Catcher in the Rye that Holden does not have a good relationship with his peers. Holden has a strong anger against everyone and that results into having a hard time developing a relationship with peers. “Girls with lousy legs, girls that looked like swell girls, girls that looked like they’d be bitches if you knew them” (Salinger 123). This proves that Holden believes everyone surrounded by him are phonies because he cannot accept the fact that society changes. Likewise, Conrad becomes anti-social by spending more time in the library than with his friends and consequently he starts to lose his best friend Joe Lazenby. At one point in the novel, Joe Lazenby has a talk with Conrad, which ends up in an argument....
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