The Bell Jar and Catcher In The Rye
In the book The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, a young adult by the name of Esther Greenwood tells her story of her everyday struggle with life. Her coming of age is very difficult, and she does not know where she fits in society. In The Catcher and the Rye, Holden Caulfield also is trying to find his way in life. He too faces many mental and social challenges. In both novels, these characters go through many struggles to find their path in life.
In both books, Holden and Esther were in a stage of their lives that proved to be very difficult mentally on each of them. Holden, at the age of sixteen, had been in a private school and left. He ventured off into the city to face the hardships that came with the package. Esther, an award-winning student was sent to New York on a scholarship. Both of these characters ended up in places that they did not fit in. When Esther was in New York, she tried to be someone she wasn’t. This caused her to not enjoy her stay; she merely put on a facade. Holden on the other hand couldn’t stand people trying to be what they weren’t. He called these people “phonies”. At the slightest reason, he would tell himself that the person was a fake. As the time lengthened, both of these young adults fell into a deeper hole of depression. Neither in which realized their mental collapses. As their conditions get worse, the thought of suicide enters both their minds.
After each character had reached their ultimate low, thoughts of suicide crossed their minds. Holden stated, “I woke up singing this morning. I mean, I was happy and all. But last night, what I really felt like was jumping out the window. All I could see were these phonies – I never left the house though. They were on TV, in books and stuff, acting out madman stuff in the god dam movies. I swear sometimes I think I’m crazy, surrounded by these god dam princes making out like life’s perfect and all. That kills me. Then someone wakes them up, and they all get sore as hell about it. But I lie singing in bed.” He had reached such a low in his life, that life itself did not matter to him. He saw life as a harsh reality that he did not want to be a part of. Esther not only thought about suicide, she fell off the edge and attempted suicide. The meaning of life was considered nothing to her.
Something that both Holden and Esther shared in common was a person of the opposite sex that they always mentioned. Esther continually brought up Buddy Willard, her man from her hometown. Throughout the book she gave little stories of what and Buddy did in the years past. However, her indications never made one believe that she wanted to be with him. She made the reader believe that Buddy was a person of the past, but a person not out of her mind. Holden on the other hand had a girl by the Jane that was consistently in his mind. In the novel, Holden keeps telling the reader that he’s going to call her, or some way get in touch with her. Once again, both characters sharing another similarity with one another.
As one can see, both Holden and Esther shared a similar perspective on the life they were living. Unfortunately, the lives that they both lived were very painful and depressing. The comparison of the two proved to be outstanding, but showed the harsh reality of depression. Each was on the brink of disaster, coming only moments away from inescapable fate.