Holden Caulfield and Mersault have both been alienated in their worlds as the authors have so clearly portrayed in both books. But as much as both have been alienated, one is an essentialist while the other remains an existentialist. Holden Caulfield being the essentialist that he is, has psychological motivation for every action he takes. He is a teenager that is struggling with the fact that everyone has to grow up, which to him means that you have to become "phony or corrupt". While on the other hand Mersault, the existentialist, does things for no reason whatsoever. He is a completely aloof, unattached , unemotional person. He doesn't think much about events or their consequences, nor does he express much feeling in relationships or during emotional times.
The similarities between Holden and Mersault are the way they are both in a sense alienated from the worlds in which they live in. Holden Caulfield believes that all adults are phony so he doesn't want to become one and so he distances himself from the adult world. He feels that when you're a child you view the world without any bias, you see everything for what it is. So to stay a child he constantly flunks out of schools back and forth. When you graduate from highschool you are going to the next level whether it be college or whatever else you want to do, everyone around you will view you as an adult and you yourself will become one. After highschool, most people tend to grow up but Caulfield is keeping himself in highschool so that he doesn't.
In the beginning of the book, Holden sees everyone he knows as "phony". He feels that he is surrounded by hypocrites in a school filled with fakery. Principal Thurmur, the principal of Holden's high school of which he got kicked out of, Pencey, was the leader of the whole charade. During a teacher/parent day, Principal Thurmur would only say hello to the wealthy parents of students. He would not associate himself with those that were not...
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