Social Norms In Catcher In The Rye And Nervous Conditions

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The purpose of my essay is to explore how different social backgrounds and the social norms that follow affect the personality of two fictive characters and encourage them to break out of their station to find an identity. The protagonists Holden Caulfield in J.D. Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye and Tambudzai in Tsitsi Dangarembga’s novel Nervous Conditions are both victims of social norms. Therefore, the foundation of this essay was to analyze the character’s social background, which has influenced their personalities, behavior and aspirations, and consequently their opposing actions against society.
Holden Caulfield is an American adolescent during the period after the Second World War. He is born in a wealthy family and belongs to the upper class – where studying at a prestigious school and getting a job with high wages is a norm. Tambudzai, on the other hand, is born in a farmer’s family in former Rhodesia. The social norms of this social class are the opposite; farmers, especially females, are not expected to get more than basic education. Both protagonists are misplaced young souls, who desperately try to break out of their predetermined roles. Unable to comply with the upper class-pressure, Holden escapes his station to live the adult life. However, because of the lack of understanding from his surroundings and a disability to comprehend the nature of adulthood, Holden fails to find an identity and conform to society. In contrast to Holden, Tambudzai is

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