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A Comparison of the Catcher in the Rye and the Adventures of Huck Finn

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The forthcoming of American literature proposes two distinct

Realistic novels portraying characters which are tested with a plethora

of adventures. In this essay, two great American novels are compared:

The Adventures of Huck Finn by Mark Twain and The Catcher In The Rye by

J.D. Salinger. The Adventures of Huck Finn is a novel based on the

adventures of a boy named Huck Finn, who along with a slave, Jim, make

their way along the Mississippi River during the Nineteenth Century.

The Catcher In The Rye is a novel about a young man called Holden

Caulfield, who travels from Pencey Prep to New York City struggling with

his own neurotic problems. These two novels can be compared using the

Cosmogonic Cycle with both literal and symbolic interpretations.

The Cosmogonic Cycle is a name for a universal and archetypal

situation. There are six parts that make up the cycle: the call to

adventure, the threshold crossing, the road of trials, the supreme test,

a flight or a flee, and finally a return. There are more parts they do

not necessarily fall into the same order, examples of these are symbolic

death and motifs. The Cosmogonic Cycle is an interesting way to

interpret literature because is Universal or correlates with any time

period and any situation.

The Call to Adventure is the first of the Cosmogonic Cycle. It is

the actual "call to adventure" that one receives to begin the cycle.

There are many ways that this is found in literature including going by

desire, by chance, by abduction, and by being lured by an outside

force. In The Adventures of Huck Finn, Huck is forced with the dilemma

of whether to stay with his father and continue to be abused or to

leave. Huck goes because he desires to begin his journey. In The

Catcher In The Rye, Holden mentally is torn between experience and

innocence, it would seem to him that an outside force is luring him to

do something but in actuality he is beginning his journey because of his

desire. The Call to Adventure is the first step in the Cosmogonic

Cycle, it is the step at which the character or hero is brought into


The Threshold Crossing is the second step, it is the place or the

person that which the character crosses over or through into the Zone

Unknown. The Zone Unknown being the place where the journey takes

place. The threshold crossing is often associated with a character

change or an appearance change. An example of this is in The Wizard of

Oz, when the movie goes from black and white to color, showing a visual

symbolic death. A symbolic death is another part to the Cosmogonic

Cycle of which the character goes through a change and emerges a more

complete person or more experienced. In The Adventures of Huck Finn, a

symbolic death is very apparent during the scene in which Huck sets up

his father's cabin to look like Huck was brutally murder. Huck emerges

as a runway child and now must be careful of what he does, so that he

does not get caught. Huck also tells people false aliases for himself

so that no one knows his true identity. Every time that he does this he

is symbolically dying and reemerges a more experienced person. In The

Catcher In The Rye, Holden also uses fake names, but Holden symbolically

dies through fainting, changing the position of his red hunting hat, and

is associated with bathrooms. The bathroom motif, or the reoccurring

appearance of a bathroom, symbolizes death for Holden because he enters

bathrooms with a neurotic and pragmatic frame of mind and exits with a

cleared mind. The use of symbolic death and motifs is associated with

the Threshold Crossing, the second step of the Cosmogonic Cycle.

The Road of Trials is the next step in the Cosmogonic Cycle, which

are the obstacles which the character faces throughout the literary

work. In The Adventures of Huck Finn, Huck's Road of Trials occurs on

the Mississippi River. He faces many obstacles, including moral

decisions of right and wrong, dealing with con-artists, and helping a

runaway slave. He promulgates more experienced from his journey down

the river on his raft. In The Catcher In The Rye, Holden's Road of

Trials takes from Pencey Prep to New York City. Holden deals with his

own mental hallucinations, cognative disotience, and his desire to stay

innocence, his Peter Pan complex. The author does not end the novel

with a happy ending, from analyzing Holden's experiences we can assume

he emerges a more complete and understanding person once he came to the




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