Catcher In The Rye Vs. Don Quixote


Catcher In The Rye Vs. Don Quixote Essay, Research Paper

J.D. Salinger?s TheCatcher in the Rye can be compared to Cervantes? Don Quixote. Both novels feature naive protagonists pining for an ideal world. In Salinger?s novel, Holden Caulfield is a sixteen year old who experiences challenging and questionable events in the mid-stage of his adolescence. Holden wants to protect the innocent children like ?the catcher in the rye? from the immorality and corruptness of the ?phony? adult world. In Cervantes work, Don Quixote is the idealistic protagonist who sets out to transform the world in accordance to his medieval vision. His growing obsession with stories of knighthood and books of chivalry leads him to abandon his former life and become a wandering knight set out to right the world?s wrongs.

The title of the book Thr Catcher in the Rye is reflected in the mistaken words of a poem by Robert Burns. Holden thought the words were ?if a body catch a body coming through the rye.? That is what he wanted to be. He feels that he has the responsibility of saving the children from falling off the cliff and losing their innocence. Holden wants to protect the vulnerable from being corrupted by the adult world, an immoral and unscrupulous society tainted by phonies. Unless stopped the children will fall off the cliff and plunge into the evils of adulthood.

Although Holden wished to help children retain their innocence perpetually, he realized he couldn?t. There was too much evil in the world, and it would be infeasible to shelter a child from it. This is evident when he goes to Phoebe?s school to leave a note requesting a final meeting with Phoebe. As Holden was walking up the stairs he sees ? fuck-you ? written on the wall and rubs it off with his hand. Then, later as he is going down a different staircase he sees the same phrase on the wall, but this time scratched in with a knife so he can?t efface it. At that moment, he thought that there would be millions of signs just like that one in the world. There was no way he could eradicate all of them. Even in the peace of the Egyptian tomb room at the museum there is a?fuck-you?written in crayon. At this point, he is hopeless and realizes that his dreams are unattainable.

In the carousel scene with Phoebe Holden reluctantly accepts the fact that everyone loses his or her innocence. While on the carousel, Phoebe joins the other kids in trying to grab for the gold rings. Although Holden is afraid that she will fall off the horse, he realizes that he can?t stop her. He states, ?The thing is with kids is; if they want to grab for the gold ring, you have to let them do it and not say anything. If they fall off, they fall off, but it?s bad if you say anything to them.?

Similarly, Cervantes? Don Quixote portrays an idealistic protagonist who sets out to transform the world in accordance to his medieval vision. The novel opens by briefly describing the main character?s fascination with chivralic stories. He dreams for the way things were in the times of knights and the code of chivalry. Even though he lived in the Renaissance Era, he decided to turn his dream into reality by transforming himself, Alonso Quixano, a fifty year old man from La Mancha devoted to hunting and tending to his estate, into Don Quixote, a courageous knight-errant who will roam the country-side of Europe rescuing damsels and vanquishing evil lords and enchanters. He then polishes an old, rickety suit of armor, gives his old horse a sophisticated name, Rocinate, and sets out into the world to do good deeds in the name of his lady-love, Dulincea.

Don Quixote associates everything in his surrounding with medieval comparisons. He sees what his mind and imagination create. On the first night of his journey, Don Quixote reaches a roadside inn. His feverish brain imagines that the inn is a magnificent castle. He mistakes two prostitutes he meets there for beautiful maidens and the innkeeper for the lord of the castle. Everyone is amused by Don Quixote’s flowery speeches and by his odd helmet, which is tied on with ribbons and so cumbersome to remove that he has to keep it on even when he is eating and sleeping. When Don Quixote asks to be knighted, the innkeeper decides to do so for self-amusement.

Don Quixote travels throughout Spain from La Mancha and the Sierra Morena to Barcelona stopping at various inns and villages along the way befriending shepherds rescuing damsels, and battling evil lords. Although the knight is sometimes triumphant in combat , he has also been defeated. But in each of his exploits, he ignores the social conventions and remains faithful to his fantastic vision of his world. However, Don Quixote?s vision of the world asserts itself in the lives of those around him, and those who begin by mocking him end by mimicking him. A young student named Sampson Carrasco first poses as the Knight of Mirrors and does battle with Don Quixote as a jest, but when he loses, he dedicates himself to revenge and becomes the Knight of the White Moon, who finally ends the great hero’s career.

As he lies on his deathbed, he renounces chivalry telling his friends that he is no longer Don Quixote but Alonso Quixano. At the end of the novel, he learned to integrate inner goodness without resorting to costumes and a life of fantasy.

In conclusion, the The Catcher in the Rye and Don Quixote present main characters who wish to rebuild society in accordance to their idealistic views. In Salinger?s novel, Holden, learning that all children must mature, crosses over a line of innocence to experience. In addition, in Cervantes? novel, Don Quixote fails at the herculean task of rebuilding society. The novel parodied every aspect of knighthood and chivralic romance demonstrating that European society had changed irrevocably since the age of knights and castles.

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