Comparative analysis of ‘Catcher in The Rye’ by J.D. Salinger and ‘Journey to the Interior’ by Margaret Atwood
When you embark on a journey, as defined today, you are not simply travelling from one destination to another, you are progressing from one stage to another. In Plato’s ‘Allegory of the Cave’ he states “How could they see anything but the shadows if they were never allowed to move their heads?” Progress is achieved by turning one’s head, to see beyond the shadows of the cave. Though it is not wholly realised by the new sights alone. Rather, by the self-examination and the realisation that there are more opportunities than previously perceived. Therefore, a physical movement is merely a reflection of the underlying inner journey and just as physical obstacles force one to overcome them to continue to their destination, complexities in self-reflection force of one to grow, to progress or their journey ends. These ideas are explored in J.D. Salinger’s novel ‘Catcher in the Rye’ and Margaret Atwood’s poem ‘Journey to the Interior’. As the personas in each text navigate through the physical world, they too are forced to self-evaluate and overcome obstacles.
Journey’s don’t just involve self-evaluation, the physical journey and the inner evaluations are direct reflections of one another. In ‘Catcher in the Rye’, Holden is constantly lying to and deceiving others and he’s aware of it, proclaiming himself to be “the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life.” This is ironic because in Holden’s mind “phoniness” is the epitome of everything wrong with adulthood and the world around him. Holden looks down upon anyone who he perceives as someone who either refuses to acknowledge their own weaknesses or thinks they are something they’re not. This motif strongly reflects his mental state; he refuses to acknowledge the phoniness of his actions. Holden’s focus on the insincerity of other people’s actions only highlights his inability to recognise and evaluate his own shortcomings. His penchant for lying and deception throughout his physical journey merely depicts his own tendency to lie to himself and avoid self-examination.
Margaret Atwood’s poem ‘Journey to the Interior’ is far more direct in its exploration of this idea. As the persona treks through mountain and hills, they relate their movements to their inner thoughts and the process of self-examination. This extended metaphor directly demonstrates how our physical movement directly reflects our psychological exploration of self. The contrast in the use of the words “similarities” (line 1) and “differences” (line 20) allow the reader to draw connections between...