Comparative Essay Between Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger and Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
The issue of violence can be denied or avoided by the contemporaries, but, unfortunately, it is a part of our lives. Violence has always existed in the world, as there are always two sides in our lives, two aspects, and two paths for our development… The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger appeals for the problem of violence and vividly discusses the way a teenager tries to survive in a violent world, which is full of sex, drugs and alcohol. Holden Caulfield does not have any problems in his access to alcohol. This boy tries to deal with his depression by means of alcohol consumption. Chapter 20 perfectly illustrates a horrible and a destructive power of alcohol exerted on a young teenager. A violent attitude to girls practiced by the boy and by his friends can be clarified by their uncontrolled consumption of alcohol, immaturity of their souls and minds and lacking of parental supervision. They always do something horrible with the girls. They are too young, but their minds can be compared with the minds of sophisticated criminals. In the result of his incredible desire of violence, this boy gets beat up twice. Of course, one can argue that boys are always fighting, but it is not necessary to differentiate a scale of violence. Salinger describes this peculiar, weird and a perverted world of the young generation, when young boys cannot direct their inner energy into the right direction. They are much concerned about fight, sex and alcohol.
In the novel by Zora Hurston Their Eyes Were Watching God the author talks about violence too. There is a different type of violence, a marital violence. As a rule, this novel is often considered from the perspective of feminism. Violence is everywhere in the context of the novel. Janie is not satisfied with her life, she thought that it would be different…Unfortunately, very often women do not think about their lives the way they are.
Janie experiences violence from her husband: “Ah’ll take holt uh dat ax and come in dere and kill yuh!” (Hurston 1990, p. 30). Jane copies behavior of her husband and tries to hurt him both morally and physically. This woman becomes violent, as she gets rid of her illusions about life. She thinks more about life realities. Magnitude of her violence is growing, when she tries to humiliate Joe. She is more violent in relation to this man, while she only tries some negative and humiliating practices against her husband.
This woman wants to live. She is looking for herself and wants to identify herself in her different marriages. Finally, she shoots Tea Cake. This is a culminate point of the novel. The author wants to show that it is impossible to avoid violence in our lives. Nevertheless, there is always different scale of it. A seed of violence can spire and turn in the “field of violence” or even in the “universe of violence”… When she kills Tea Cake, she experiences the highest point of violence, but she loses connection with the nature and life. There is no need to live for her. She experienced everything she wanted. Instead of love, she preferred violence and that was her choice.
Therefore, in both novels the authors show that once practiced, violence cannot be stopped. It can be claimed that it is possible to draw a linear development of a violent person on the example of Holden and Janie. At first, it is very funny to feel “the unbearable lightness of being”, when drinking alcohol, smoking or doing something else, but then you find not truth, but oblivion at the bottom of a wineglass. When a person is growing, his feelings are more acute and he wants to look beyond a wineglass, like Janie did. Her violence is more intense, because she experienced much more than Holden Caulfield. Who knows, but a character of that boy could get rid of his violence and become a normal person, or he could become a serial killer. Everything depends on a person. He can either withstand his negative feelings and violence, or follow them and develop not dignity, but cruelty. Salinger shows violence as a consequence of permissiveness and Hurston positions violence as an integrative part of a human life. Both authors agree that “life is a game” (Salinger 1991, Chapter 2), but it is better for everybody to chose fair rules for playing it.
Hurston, Zora Neale, 1990. Their Eyes Were Watching God. Ed. Henry Louis Gates. New York, Harper.
Salinger, J. D., 1991. The Cather in the Rye. Little, Brown and Company.