Good Essay On Argument Essay
On their first steps of maturing teenagers usually face a lot of problems. It is hard for them to understand how the world functions, what is the best behavioral pattern, what is right and what is wrong. But the most important question that interests young people is how to find the right place in a huge world. Moreover, many of them cannot agree with everything that is going on around them, stand against the society in which they live, do not agree with its values and finally become misfits. Therefore, here comes the main question: Who are misfits and what makes them differ from the rest of the world?
The theme of teenager’s growth and maturing is favored by many of the great authors. Thus, both J.D. Salinger and Jodi Picoult in their works The Catcher in the Rye and Nineteen minutes correspondently describe the maturing process of the main characters of their books and a great number of problems that accompany it. The authors devoted their books to the world of teenagers who felt themselves alienated from the rest of the world. Both Holden Caulfield and Peter Houghton viewed themselves as misfits. They saw the world from a different perspective and stood in a sharp contrast with the society they lived in. Both the boys were disappointed at people’s hypocrisy and could hardly find a person with whom they could speak openly. The lack of such a person as well as the impossibility to find their place in the world made the characters suffer from the imperfections of the society they lived in and misunderstanding between them and other people. As a result, Holden and Peter finally found themselves as misfits – people who cannot find their place in the world.
Thus, Holden is the main character of the novel The Catcher in the Rye. Holden is a young rebel who doesn’t want to put up with social norms and values viewing them as hypocrite and mercantile. Holden is full of contradictions. The main character of the story couldn’t mix well with adults as he believed that they only told lies and didn’t treat him seriously. He couldn’t communicate with his peers and despised their drawbacks such as touching of personal possessions (Ackley’s habit) or pretended neatness (Stradlater). At the same time looking at the drawbacks of other people Holden didn’t miss his own. Thus, he knew that he also was a liar as he lied through the teeth to many adults. He also called himself a coward as he couldn’t cut a man across the face. The protagonist of the story is capable of logical and philosophical thinking; he loved reading and was interested in the things that other people didn’t put attention on. Holden took an independent stand in many things but at the same time being still a teenager he was rather naïve and didn’t know an answer to such simple questions as how much his father earns. The young man couldn’t find answers to his countless questions and that is why he viewed escape as the best way to get done with lies that surround him.
In 19 minutes Jody Picoult also depicts a character which lived in disagreement with the world around. However, Peter’s alienation was a bit different than Holden’s. From the very childhood Peter was abused by his schoolmates. He was a sensitive boy who couldn’t fight for his own hand. Other school boys quickly noticed his weaknesses and started to mock at him. Peter understood that he was different and was frustrated because of his unfair treatment and imperfections of modern world. From the very childhood Peter suffered from bullies who mocked and laughed at him. Moreover, such a mistreatment didn’t stop when Peter grew older; on the contrary, it became even worse. At first, Peter was disappointed at the fact that he was mocked at. A young boy suffered from loneliness. Later on his loneliness turned into anger and hatred. He felt himself as an outcast and decided to punish those who made him suffer. In comparison with Holden who simply showed his disrespect to people around Peter went further. He was overwhelmed with anger and didn’t find the best solution but to kill his offenders.
It is possible to say that an important role in teenager’s growth and development plays family. If considering Holden, it is clear that he loved his family. He criticized them a lot, for example he criticized his elder brother D.B. who started to work in Hollywood and who in Holden’s opinion wasted his talent. But still he loved him and called one of the most talented guys. He missed his brother Allie who died at a young age and who was the most intelligent boy that Holden knew. However, the person he admired most was his younger sister Phoebe. Despite her small age she was very smart and could speak with her brother on any themes. She was the only one who understood Holden and in fact was his only true friend. It is remarkable that Holden feels as a misfit in his family as well. He was turned out from several schools and caused a lot of problems for his family. Therefore, he claims: “As a matter of fact, I'm the only dumb one in the family” (Salinger, 36). From these words it is evident that Holden feels as an outcast in his family.
Speaking about Peter’s family it is possible to notice that although his parents loved him and cared about him, he still felt that he was underestimated. Thus, Peter was always compared to his brother Joey who was taller than Peter, more athletic and more intelligent than Peter. Once, when Peter was a child and told his parents that he lost his lunch box which was in fact damaged by his schoolmates, his father said the following: “I don’t remember Joey losing his lunch box three times during his first times at school” (Picoult, 164). This phrase offended Peter as he felt that his brother was superior to him. Peter believed that his parents loved his elder brother more than him. That is why it is clear that Peter’s low self-esteem roots itself in the family.
It is usually believed that misfits don’t have many friends. Thus, neither Peter nor Holden had many friends. Throughout the novel The Catcher in the Rye Holden didn’t want to get close to people and to make friends. He wasn’t offended by people or suffered from bullies. On the contrary he was the one who pointed out to people’s drawbacks. At this rate his young sister Phoebe told Holden: “You don't like a million things. You don't” (Salinger, 91). In fact, Phoebe was Holden’s only friend. Therefore, M. duMais Svogun claims that the importance of her character in the novel “has been reiterated repeatedly” (Svogun). Despite her age she always knew what is right for Holden and knew approach for him. So, Holden didn’t like schools, didn’t like people with whom he studied, didn’t like anything in the world. He himself has chosen to be a rebel, a misfit. Holden preferred loneliness and his dreamed of working at a filling station and pretended to be deaf so that he wouldn’t have to communicate with silly people and to make new acquaintances.
Peter’s situation with friends is a bit different. He didn’t choose to become a misfit. Instead, other people made this choice for him. Since childhood he desperately wanted to start school and make a lot of friends there. However, he became the subject of countless jokes and ironies. Other kids even didn’t try to understand him. His only friend was Josie. Thus, in one of their talks he said to her: “I want people to like me” (Picoult, 178). He simply couldn’t understand why people always try to offend him. Even his friend Josie later own decided to end their friendship as he was unpopular guy. Therefore, it is possible to say that people made Peter to become an outcast.
The role of school in teenagers’ lives is also of great importance. Speaking about Holden, this boy definitely had a lot of problems in all his schools. He changed a lot of schools but couldn’t find his place in any of them. He wasn’t treated badly as it did Peter in his school but still Holden felt that he didn’t correspond to any of the schools he studied in. The young boy didn’t like people with whom he had to live under the same roof and had some fights with them. Thus, he didn’t like Ackley and his thousand questions that he may ask. He criticized his roommate Stradlater calling him “a secret slob” (Salinger, 15). In fact he criticized not only his schoolmates but the whole school in general. Thus, he said the following about his school: “It was one of the worst schools I ever went to. It was full of phonies. And mean guys” (Salinger, 91). Therefore, it is clear that Holden didn’t like his school and didn’t felt to be part of it.
It is evident that Peter’s relationship with his schoolmates didn’t form well from his first days at school. Peter was rather sweet and sensitive boy and that is the main reason why he couldn’t get along with his classmates. He was afraid of reacting on their rude behavior and preferred to stay calm. Unfortunately, but the teachers of the school couldn’t do anything with the formed situation as well. Thus, in a conversation with Lacy, one of Peter’s teachers said if they punish the bullies next time they would do even worse things. Therefore, she stated: “But the sad fact is that if Peter wants it to end, he’s going to have to be the part of the solution” (174). It is clear that regardless of Peter’s reaction the bullies would never stop. They simply chose Peter as a victim and mocked at him all the time he studied at school. Therefore when Peter’s attorney asked him why he decided to kill his schoolmates Peter said that it was not he who started the war. For instance, in the nursery school the bullies pulled out his chair so he would fall down, in the second grade they were holding his head down in the toilet. It is evident that all these boys who mistreated Peter made him become a misfit.
Considering the two books it should be said that Holden’s main issue in the novel was the dissatisfaction with the world around. He realizes how contradictive the world is and he cannot find himself in it. At the same time Holden understands that he is not capable of changing it. He asks adults hundreds of questions but doesn’t receive answer to any of them. He feels himself a misfit as he perceives the existing reality differently. Holden’s main dream in the novel is to help other children to stand again the whole world. He imagines that he is standing on the edge of some cliff and catches all children who want to go over the cliff. The protagonist of the story wants to become the catcher in the rye.
In Nineteen minutes Peter also suffers from the dissatisfaction of the world. But his story is quite different. All his life Peter was a misfit and wasn’t accepted by the world around. His classmates teased and offended him, his teachers closed their eyes on it, even his closest friend betrayed him. All these factors contributed to Peter’s conflict with the world and mainly with himself. He couldn’t understand what was wrong with him and why he was chosen to be mocked at. In her article After the Shooting is Over Janet Maslin claims that Peter became “a victim of circumstances” (Maslin). Mainly these circumstances made him a victim who was forced to fight.
It is also important to mention the coping mechanisms both characters used when dealing with their problems. Thus, Holden have chosen alienation and rejection of the world. He understood that he couldn’t change the situation around him and change the world full of lies and hypocrisy. That is why he decided to distant himself from all the problems he faced and to move to another city far away from his family.
Peter on its turn chose a more radical way. At first he tried not to draw attention to people who offended him. The main character simply got used to it. But then, suffering from internal conflict he decided to adopt measures and to punish his offenders. Therefore, from a sweet and gentle teenager he turned into aggressive person who is capable of ending people’s lives. Unfortunately, but in his desire to defend himself he did terrible things which are impossible to justify. It took him 19 minutes to kill his offenders but the consequences would never disappear.
A special attention should be given to the conclusions that both characters made at the end of the novels. Thus, up till the last moment of the book Holden wanted to escape. He imagined him being far away from his family, friends and other people. However, his sister Phoebe helped Holden to review his principles and moral values. Thus, when she said that she wanted to escape together with Holden, the young men for the first time have chosen the position of an adult. He stopped to act like a rebel who cared only about himself. Holden understood that escape was not the best solution that is why he decided to stay with people whom he loved regardless of misunderstandings that sometimes existed between them.
Peter’s history is far more complicated. He was guilty of the death of many young people. Peter’s psychologist tried to justify him saying the following words: “Peter had spent his entire life being beaten and taunted and threatened, to the point where he believed he would be killed by those same kids if he didn’t do something (Picoult, 992-993). It seems that it is possible to blame the society for what had happened but nevertheless Peter still had a choice and that is why it is impossible to justify his actions. There was no hope for him as he knew that he couldn’t change anything. That is why he preferred to end his life and to forget about everything that had happened. Thus, for the first time in his life he was not afraid any longer.
Maslin, Janet. “After the Shooting is Over”. New York Times. 16 Mar. 2007. Web. 31. Mar. 2015
Picoult, Jody. Nineteen Minutes. 31 Mar. 2015. PDF file
Salinger, J.D.The Catcher in the Rye. 31 Mar. 2015. PDF file
Svogun, M. duMais. “Repetition, Reversal and the Nature of the Self in Two Episodes of J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye”. 6 Dec. 2009: 695-706. Taylor & Francis Online. Web. 31 Mar. 2015
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