The Catcher in the Rye and 6 Degrees of Separation
The human condition is as far from reason and judgement as anything can be, it is what we have tried to explain for centuries and it is still a confusing maze we attempt and pretend to understand. Holden from The Catcher in the Rye and Paul from Six degrees of Separations help to explore the workings of the human condition, both boys are conflicted with their lives and have difficulty fitting into their society. However these two texts do put the boys in different positions in life, Holden has what Paul desires but it does not give him he love and care he unknowingly needs. Paul takes on roles that disguise his own traits and turns him into what he believes to be a person nobody can say no to. When he takes on these roles, he embraces it with a passion, his life is insignificant, what matters is the people whom listen to him with undivided attention, seeing him as a member of the elite and not as a mugged black stranger. However Holden is not able to make this kind of connection with people, for example his friendship with Jane Gallgher did not develop ecause he would not let it There are two main themes in the two pieces of text that allow us to better understand the human condition, these are alienation as a form of self-protection and deception. In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s in America the role of men and women have been changed greatly. Holden’s emotions would not have been voiced carelessly , he would have had to play the role of a sturdy young man to the hilt as he had a wealthy family and a younger sister to care for. Like many young children from ealthy families Holden was sent away to a boarding school for most of his life, he would have become used to the inderpendence he was given and this is evident when he decided to spend three days by himself in New York. Holden alienates the world to protect his own emotions, he is so afraid of emotional rejection that he has shut himself off from the rest of the world. Holden never delves into his own emotional problems, he never attempts to seek his reasoining out. Instead he tries to convince himself that he is better than the rest f society but in effect he has isolated himself so wholly any form of emotional interaction spooks him and sends him hiding. This is evident with his underlying yearning for JaneGallagher but is too afraid to make any connection with her. Holden revels his isolation calling anyone with self-worth a “phonie” but in the end he is the biggest phonie of them all. The book the Catcher in the Rye appealed to young people everywhere, who felt pressured about growing up and living by society’s rules, and o disengage from meaningful human connection. The realease of this book created a wave of disagreement and contreversy but many saw this book as a symbol of cultural oppression. The movie six degrees of separation also explored the consequence of alienation as a form of self protection, Paul is a gay black man living on the streets of New York with very little money, it is implied that his life may not have been filled with wealth and opportunity. He yearns for a life that will provide him with comfort and stability, he nters peoples houses and surrounds himself with what they have and for a moment he is able to pretend that what they have belongs to him. Paul creates a new identity for himself as a “son of sydney Poitier” as that is the only way that the rich would open their doors to a stranger and allow him into their lavish apartments. However his deceptive personality cannot be sustained, continuously he is beaten down and tossed aside and the more this happens the more desparate he is to seek out a loving and caring “family”.
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It is only when he meets Ouisa Kittridge that by captivating her imagination that he is able to form a deep connection with her. But Ouisa herself had to look past the status quo of her time to be able to bond with Paul, the rich people of america were supposed to hate black people this can be seen from Pauls admission to Ouisa in the Phone booth, “Mrs. Louisa Kitterge, I am black”, the issue of colour is repeated throughout the film and Paul is constantly mentioned along with drugs, crime and AIDS. As Paul goes about harming the upper class people of New York he is costing himself a great deal of happiness, by posing himself as this well-educated, polite son of a famous Africa-american man he will have lost himself in his alienation, such as when he is in the Phone booth calling Ouisa and still he continues to connect himself with Sydney Poitier. It is only with Ouisa that he lies himself completely vulnerable, in all other instances he is the one that is in control, whenever a conversation goes beyond his power or nowledge he swiftly changes the topic back to something he understands perfectly. Although Holden does seek for a close connection with another he does not have Paul’s belief in himself and the people around him. Holden constantly like to decieve himself from the truth and the real world, he is an example to humanity’s fear of the real world and the lengths that one will go to, to continuously decieve oneself. The theme of deception is evident in both texts, Holden Caulfield unlike Paul likes to decieve people urley for his own pleasure as even so much as giving a fake name would allow him to distance himself from other people. He seeks a close emotional relationship but will not allow himself to get close to another person, in his fear he retaliates with lies and myths to cover his motives. His relience on lies is evident when he meets Ernest Morrow’s mother on the train, instead of showing his real identity and allowinghimself to be scrutinised he gives the janitors name and creates lies about her son. hroughout the book Holden enjoys safetly mocking the world at a distance but never giving himself into it’s cruelty. Paul has immersed his life in the deception of others and himself, with the help of Trent Conway he was able to access the world that he had never experienced. He learnt to speak and act as “the son of sydney Poitier” and he was able to decieve people with absolute fictional information such as his thesis on the catcher in the rye and the power of imagination. The human condition is one of fear and trickery ut it also shows bravery and courage such as when Ouisa was able to walk away from her lavish but false life to pursue a life free from the the straits of society. Both the catcher in the rye and six degrees of separation depict relatively young boys struggling in the cruelty of society. The human condition is one that adapts and for Holden and Paul for them to survive they changed their ways into what society desired, but never did they feel they were in sync with their lives.