A comparative essay between THE CATCHER IN THE RYE and GREAT EXPECTATIONS

Essay by gigglygirl February 2005

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When analyzing and comparing The Catcher in the Rye and Great Expectations, by J.D. Salinger and Charles Dickens respectively, one usually stops and ponders, what can these two novels possibly have in common? Well I can tell you, quite a lot. To begin with, both are fictional autobiographies, narrated personally by the protagonists, that is Holden and Pip. However, regardless of the fact that they are both narrated in the first person, one, Great Expectations is a full life story, and you can tell by the very beginning, Pip starts by giving us a full background description of his self and his family, hence starting his autobiography from the very beginning. Holden, on the other hand starts with the very quote " If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth."

This demonstrates, precisely that he has absolutely no intention of telling you his whole life story, only the part he finds relevant.

Both novels are also retrospectives, that is they are protagonists revisiting their past experiences and passing them on to the reader, however, there is again a striking difference, in Catcher in the Rye, when Holden narrates his experiences he is only a few weeks or months older than he was when the occurrences actually took place, that means, he has had time to rethink his actions but he is not significantly more mature and has accepted them or had time to deal with them. Pip on the other hand, tells his story many...