Comparative Essay: Slaughterhouse-Five and the Catcher in the Rye

Comparative Essay: Slaughterhouse-Five and The Catcher In The Rye

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut and The Catcher In The Rye by J.D Salinger are extremely influential and popular pieces of literature. Both novels feature common main ideas surrounding alienation. From the surface these novels appear extremely different, and while they differ in plot, they as well share a variety of similarities.

The protagonists in both novels endure contrasting journeys, though the process and transformation from the beginning to end of the novels bear some similarities. Slaughterhouse-Five’s protagonist Billy Pilgrim is an unlikely soldier, and while he is weak before the war, his short role as a chaplain’s assistant and then as a prisoner of war display his unpopularity, lack of direction, and his fragile and shaky state of mind, similar to that of Holden Caulfield, the protagonist of The Catcher In The Rye who is suffering through the awkward transition between youth and adulthood and is not pleased with the realities of adult world. Billy lacks a steady journey, as he travels and jumps through time, his story breaks free from the traditional chronological plot line. Contrasting Holden’s somewhat steady chronological journey. As the novels progress, both characters develop and grow, Billy progresses into The Trafalmadorian philosophy and ways and as he has experienced so much grief in his life, he slowly becomes a numb man attempting to exist by denying the bad and ignoring the harsh realities in contrast to the weak man he was at the beginning of novel as he truly felt the sadness and grief of the world and his place in it. Holden is a teenager, and as he transitions and progresses into adulthood he begins a downward spiral into depression and emotional instability. He does not identify with the ways of the world and current society and wishes to break free from the typical path of those around him and the phoniness he has discovered. By the end of the novel, Holden...