How is the theme Escape shown in both ‘Catcher in the Rye’ and ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’?
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain are both examples of coming of age novels; both express each protagonist’s journey to adulthood and the lesson of listening to one’s conscience. The theme ‘Escape’ is portrayed thoroughly throughout both novels. However, the theme ‘Escape’ is not only displayed physically; it is also presented psychologically.
Initially, ‘Escape’ begins in ‘Catcher’, due to the fact that it is displayed physically when Holden Caulfield (the protagonist) leaves Pencey Prep; the third school he has been expelled from. Holden is presented as a rebellious teenager from the beginning of the novel, as he has yet again been expelled from school. On the other hand, the beginning of Huck presents a young thirteen year old who listens to his conscience. This is in terms of the introduction, where Huckleberry Finn (the protagonist) describes the finish of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, where he and Tom Sawyer discover stolen money, and give it in to the Town Judge. This indicates how honest Huck can be and how he knows he can make a good decision.
The extracts I have chosen refers to the ‘Escape from reality’ in which both characters create an image where they either have the upper hand on someone, or where they take a present realistic incident and construct it into something immeasurably exuberant and entertaining. Salinger really does effortlessly make Holden go over the top about almost everything that leaves his lips; hyperbole is used continuously throughout the extract. For example, consider when Holden is punched in the stomach by Maurice, he says: ‘Only, this time I thought I was dying. I really did.’ Then Holden fabricates this whole ordeal that he was shot by Maurice and then he went after Maurice and shot him back, Maurice begging for mercy. This expresses Holden’s desire to leave reality and escape to his own fantasy world. In my opinion, this significantly demonstrates a sign where Holden is perhaps mentally ill, as he makes sure that Maurice ends up begging for mercy and Holden eventually still murders the attacker. Most sane people have a little compassion and sympathy, so when Holden doesn’t show this, it relates to him seeming vicious or dangerous in a way. This links with the context at the time the novel was published; 1951, where young adults and teenagers were becoming rebellious. Parents at the time were neither accustomed nor familiar to children acting out and attempting to escape from their parents’ choosing their futures. The most common belief was in fact: “children are to be seen and not heard.” The novel at the time was banned from most schools, colleges and public libraries, mainly due to the fact that parents had the idea that every child would become a carbon copy of ‘Holden Caulfield’, if they allowed their children to read the novel. Which in turn may sound preposterous and ludicrous, however, parents were rather concerned and alarmed for their child’s welfare at the time. Holden in the novel shows erratic and impulsive behaviour like when he wants to run away with Sally: ‘Here’s my idea, how would you like to get the hell out of here?’, this could imply he is trying to prevent himself from becoming an adult, and trying to escape from the fact that in a year’s time he will be classed as one in society. His erratic behaviour even in the modern era would prove abnormal, however it is more accepted now than it would have been during the 1950s. Huck on the other hand, proves to have been setting out to do the right thing once again; attempting to help a slave escape during 1884 would have had severe consequences, due to the laws and beliefs in the society at the time. However evidently during the modern era this wouldn’t occur due to the point that we have the ‘Human Rights Act’ and society is relatively moral and just. In...
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