Similarities Between The Great Gatsby And The Catcher In The Rye

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By the end of the eighteenth century, Americans developed an inflated view of their own greatness. Vitalized by its military success and growing economic prosperity, the young nation grew enamored by the apparent eminence of its own democratic civilization. America established its own set of ideals, but the nation’s exceptionalism allowed little toleration of those who fell outside such norms. Authors across the normal literary canon have actively explored this phenomenon of the “other,” illuminating the struggles of abnormality in the American system. In Linden Hills, Gloria Naylor depicts a young man who must suppress his homosexuality in order to be successful in his community. Pressured by the standards of Linden Hills, Winston Alcott ultimately…show more content…
On another hand, J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye highlights the American indoctrination of youth, and how society responds heartlessly to the needs of ab-normal children. Through Salinger’s negative capability, the teenaged Holden Caufield expresses his disillusionment with the “phoniness” of the norm. In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald demonstrates how material affluence has become the American norm, critiquing consumerist decadence through exploring the insecurity of Nick Carraway. Over time, Nick’s obsession with wealth significantly affects his own behavior and lifestyle. All four authors illuminate the insidious effects of exceptionalism on the “other” and underscore the self-regulation that American society impresses upon its citizens. The concepts of void and ambiguity illustrate how American society perpetuates its apparent exceptionalism, but this coercion sustains an underlying panopticism — or a pressure to live up to one’s assumed role in the system. Naylor, Plath, Salinger, and Lee each investigate this phenomenon through their respective character explorations of sexuality, gender, youth individualism, and
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