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Coming Of Age In Jane Eyre And The Catcher In The Rye

1080 words - 5 pages

Compare and contrast the protagonists from TWO of the coming-of-age texts. How does each of these characters come of age? Is the process similar or different?
In the two texts, The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger and Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë, the protagonists face various challenges with regards to their ability to come of age. Both Jane Eyre and Holden Caulfield face three significant challenges being societal expectations, lack of support and alienation. Despite coming from two totally different times (The Catcher in the Rye set in the 1950s and Jane Eyre set in the 1850s), they still face these common issues in the process of coming of age.

The first challenge that both ...view middle of the document...

He sees change and conformity as a loss of innocence and thus, becoming once again one of the phonies, “Certain things, they should stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone.” This fear of change refers to the innocence and changes people go through to come of age. This fear hinders his coming of age as he tries to resist coming of age. Both characters face this similar struggle of dealing with conformity in coming of age and in some way attempt to fight the challenge to probably overcome the challenge.

The final challenge that the characters have to face to come of age is alienation. While both characters face alienation is different ways, it still hinders their ability to come of age. Firstly, Jane Eyre is incredibly prejudiced against by Mrs. Reed, as she believes that Jane should not be her problem and that she is a burden. As a result, Mrs. Reed takes extra care to make sure that Jane feels alienated, “She really must exclude me from privileges intended only for contented happy little children”. This shows how Jane feels but also contains some irony that Mrs. Reed only gives privileges to “happy little children” and therefore alienates Jane; Jane is, however, not happy because of the alienation that she experiences. Coming of age requires a sense of knowing one’s identity and without the sense of belonging and if one feels alienated, they could not possibly know how to come of age. With the inclusion of Helen and Miss Temple, however, her tone changes and becomes much more positive as her feeling of alienation fades. This is key in her development into her adult life. Holden Caulfield sees the conformity of adults as phony, and therefore tries to alienate himself from the majority. His fear of the adult world leads to his inability to develop and come of age. Not only does he want to alienate himself,...

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