‘Life is a game that one plays according to the rules.’ J.D. Salinger’s 1952 novel, Catcher in the Rye and Fred Schepisi’s 1993 film Six degrees of Separation, explore the notion of human existence which reflect both composer’s social and cultural context of contemporary America. Ultimately, both texts share universal ideas of identity and the loss of innocence, rebellion and the superficiality of appearance versus reality. Through the analysis of the texts’ structure, content and language it reinforces its textual integrity.

The transition from adolescence challenges one’s identity. This is evident in Salinger’s 17 year old character Holden Caulfield who is afraid of growing up.   He is a critic of society’s hypocrisy, and openly states that he feels trapped on “the other side” of life.   Holden’s cynical view highlights his loneliness and alienation. Even though in some sense he wants to connect with others, he is unable to successfully transition from adolescent to adulthood. As Holden travels through New York City in search of his identity, he encounters situations and people. The physical journey itself symbolises his search for individuality. When Holden meets the Catholic nuns, he ‘enjoyed talking to them a lot...I think, if I hadn’t been sort of afraid’. He then goes on to state ‘as a matter of fact, my father was a Catholic once’. Through this we are able to see his attempt at finding a connection with people.

Similarly, the notion of identity and alienation is also evident in Shcepisi’s protagonist, Paul in Six degrees. The film, originally a play, revolves around Paul, a con artist who enters the lives of the upper class, inspiring them by the other possibilities in life, leaving them dumbfounded at their gullibility. Although both Holden and Paul struggle to find a place in society, Paul instead constructs his identity rather than searches for it. Without knowledge of Paul’s existence prior to his intrusion into the lives of the upper class,...