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Catcher in the Rye & The Great Gatsby

THESIS: The characters of Jay Gatsby and Holden Caulfield are used in their respective novels as a means of criticizing the society in which each lives through interaction with other characters, though the methods by which this is accomplished are quite different.

A. Introduction of the two characters

1. Relationship with Jordan Baker

3. Holden and self-revelation and self-criticism

The main characters in the novels The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger represent responses to their respective societies. They begin from what might be seen as opposing social positions. In each case the novelist uses the main character, that of Jay Gatsby in the first instance and Holden Caulfield in the second, to comment on the falseness of the accepted and even elevated aspect of the society in which they live. Gatsby does not see the falseness of this social milieu and aspires to be part of it, while Holden Caulfield sees his social milieu as false and tarnished and runs away from it. Both characters are alienated from society, though their responses to that fact are quite different, and both characters are illuminated by their interactions with other characters who represent society for them.

There are also clear differences in the way these two characters are treated. Gatsby is central to the novel that bears his name, and yet his consciousness is not the one through which the story is told. The story is told through the eyes of Nick Carraway. The story of Holden Caulfield, by contrast, is told by Holden Caulfield, and the reader experiences everything through Holden's consciousness. Also, as noted, Gatsby wants to join society, while Holden wants to get away from it. Carraway is somewhat disillusioned by the social world in which he finds himself, but Holden is openly antagonistic to it.

Gatsby is indeed seen in his novel very much through the eyes of others, who ...

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Catcher in the Rye & The Great Gatsby. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 11:18, August 14, 2020, from