An thematic analyisis of The Catcher in the Rye and Of Mice and Men
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Most people don’t know what it feels like not to know themselves, but more specifically, what they’re supposed to do with their life. The feeling disconnects them from their present life, and when they realize it they are messed up and don’t know where they are or why they are there. The question most people ask is how to get out of the funk, they ask themselves how they got this way. In The Catcher in the Rye, Holden attempts to answer these questions by escaping his everyday life. Moreover, in Of Mice and Men George tries to find were he fits in as he accompanies his mentally challenged friend through his life. Both Holden and George attempt to find themselves by neglecting to continue their average day-to-day, routine based lives.
In Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck illustrates some of the problems that initiate George to act. George and Lennie “ain’t got no people” and try to find a place were they can work without problems (Steinbeck 45). Lennie creates most of the problems the he and George must face because he keeps destroying things and knows no better. Unfortunately, he does not realize how strong he actually is. Other people also cause problems for them by cruelly picking on Lennie and making him fight back. In addition, George expresses how he “could live so easy” if he did not always have to watch over Lennie (11-12). George is having a hard time coping because he’s always having to watch over and keep bailing Lennie out when he gets in trouble instead of just worrying about himself.
In addition, George feels the pressure of having to be responsible for not only himself but for Lennie partly because Lennie is a full grown person lacking the intelligence to care for himself. George dreams about a place were they belong and don’t have to run “round the country” (63). They want a place where no one makes fun of them and accepts them for what they are. This is especially important for Lennie because of his debilitating condition.
Also George and Lennie want there “own place” so they can do what they want without having to worry about others (63). George wants a place were he and Lennie can live without having to worry about Lennie causing a problem and hurting things. George is also imagining a place were he is the boss and doesn’t have to take orders from anyone but himself. While, George shows how he wants something else, he thinks about not having to be “fed bya Jap cook” and having his “own place” and not having to sleep in the bunk house (63). One of the reasons George is lonely is because he keeps thinking about the things he doesn’t have instead of focusing on the things he does have. George is also partially lonely because of his life style constantly traveling around from place to place trying to find work.
George asks Lennie if he is going to have “trouble [with] Curley” (32). This is an example of how George has to watch after Lennie and keep him out of trouble because Curley is their boss. Also this shows how George actually cares about Lennie’s well being. George’s boss also ask him why he goes through “so much trouble for another guy” (25). This only proves how much George actually cares about Lennie’s well being because his boss can even tell. This also shows what kind of a person George is because he’s always going through trouble for Lennie.
In the Catcher in the Rye, Salinger develops the character of Holden through his careful use of connotation. Since Holden is “the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life” (Salinger 16). He is proud of being a good liar and has a better grasp on what kind of decisions he is going to make in the future. Holden’s juvenile tendencies and immaturity are in his decisions. In addition he leaves his school, for the last time, shouting out loud “sleep tight, ya morons!” (52). As Holden calls everyone in his dorm morons to help justify his leaving school. His yelling is also rebellious because of how he lashes out irrationally. In addition, Salinger helps develop rebellion in Holden by all the curse words he uses; for instance, “Goddamn money” (113). Holden has no morals and is rebelling because of his lack of respect and acceptance. Also the curse words make Holden’s morals and thought seem even more juvenile.
Also Salinger develops his story with his use of connotation and the theme of finding oneself. For example, Phoebe says to Holden, “you don’t like anything that’s happening … you don’t like any school you don’t like a million things you don’t” (169). He doesn’t like anything and needs to find where he fits in to this world because Phoebe tell Holden he doesn’t like anything. In addition, Holden is kind of an outcast. In addition, when Holden “was the only one left in the tomb…[he] sort of liked it in a way [because] it was so nice and peaceful” (204). Holden is finding himself because he found something he likes. Since Holden left his school, he tried “to feel some kind of good by…. [Because] when [he leaves] a place [he likes] to know [he is] leaving it” (4).
He is trying to find himself because when he leaves a place he tries to find some comfort or a goodbye before he does. Also Salinger tells how Holden actually feels about leaving one place after another. Holden feels very “depressed in the corridor” (51). He fails all of his classes and its useless for him to be there. He doesn’t really connect with any of his peers because he just sticks to himself. Someone asked Holden when is he “going to grow up” (147). Holden is trying to find himself because he hasn’t even really grown up yet or decided what he wants to do with his life. Other people notice how Holden is acting out because they tell him.
Holden tells people he’s trying to get away and find out what he likes when he says he “has to go away” (192). This is a call for people to help him because he’s lost control of his own life. This also helps the people he knows understand kind of situation he’s going through. He also “gets the hell out of Pency” to go to New York (51). This is when Holden actually gets away to find himself because he leaves all of his friends behind and goes by himself. When he leaves the school because he’s not doing well academically or socially at all.
No matter how much a person tries to push their problems to the side, the fact is that everyone has to confront them and take control of their own lives. Since the decisions people make not only affect their own life but other peoples, it is apparent that pushing problems away only hurts the people that care about them. Holden in The Catcher in the Rye runs away from his school to escape his problems. However, in Of Mice and Men George and Lennie are forced to go because they have no place to stay. In both of these stories the characters run away from their problems to escape reality.