Comparative Study of 'Death of a Salesman' and 'The Catcher in the Rye'

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‘The pursuit of individuality and distinctiveness ultimately leads to conformity and deep feelings of failure.’ Good Morning/Afternoon, and welcome to this literary seminar at Hunters Hill High. My name is Obi Williams and I have prepared a speech on the Human Condition, its relevance in Post WW2, and how it is presented through Post WW2 literature.

This time was a period of immense social transformation, as during the war, unemployment had ended and the economy had greatly expanded which meant the end of the war brought with it; higher employment levels among women, a greater search for wealth, and a more every-man-for-himself type of society. This change led to a shifting of values for the majority of the population, a shift where there was little concern for the welfare of the minority and no apprehension that ones success could lead to the downfall of another.

‘The Catcher in the Rye’ by J.D Salinger and ‘Death of a Salesman’ by Arthur Miller are both texts that were written throughout this time of social, cultural, spiritual and economic metamorphosis. ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ through the portrayal of Holden Caulfield, explores an individual’s tumultuous tale throughout city living and teenage years of post WW2 America, hoping to find recognition, companionship and purpose, but falling short of their expectations of themselves.

Likewise in ‘Death of a Salesman’, Willy Loman is used to convey a story of bitter regret and misfortune, that had befallen thousands of similar Americans of the time. Fundamentally, what becomes present through the portrayal of Holden Caulfield in ‘Catcher in the Rye’ and Willy Loman in ‘Death of a Salesman’ is that the pursuit of individuality and distinctiveness ultimately leads to conformity and deep feelings of failure.

The term ‘Human Condition’ refers to the unique features of being human, or the defining characteristics of what makes us human. Regardless of gender, race or class, the inescapable elements of the

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