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Compare/contrast Girl Interrupted and Catcher in the Rye

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Girl, Interrupted is about a girl named Susanna who is put into a mental institute after attempting suicide. A Catcher in the Rye is about a boy named Holden who is repeatedly kicked out of schools. Both of these stories have similar characteristics. In both these stories the main characters are rejecting society and refusing to conform to the times of change. Susanna Kaysen and Holden Caulfield have had many experiences throughout their childhood that led to an eventually pre-adulthood breakdown.

The thing that both of these characters have in common and that contributed to their breakdown is that they both reject society. Neither Holden nor Susanna wished to conform to the times of change. In the movie Susanna showed this trait by falling asleep during graduation. While everybody else was listening and clapping for the people after they received their diplomas Susanna was in the back just sleeping and didn’t get up when her name was called. Holden rejected society by isolating himself. He wanted to move away and become deaf mute. “…Finally, what I decided I’d do, I decided I’d go away…I thought what I’d do was I’d pretend I was one of those deaf mutes” (198). This thought of Holden’s is a perfect example of how he rejected society and wanted nothing to do with people. Another example is when Holden gets back from New York with the fencing team he stands on top of the hill to watch the football game instead of going into the stadium.

Both characters also had to deal with pressure from the adults around them to do well in school and in life. Susanna wanted to be a writer and not go to college. But during these times of conformity authors were looked upon as communists and were rejected by society. This was not what Susanna’s parents wanted for her. They wanted her to go to college and do something productive with her life. She was also having an affair with her professor at school. The constant pressure from this and her parents lead her to take an entire bottle of aspirin followed by vodka to “get rid of her headache”. This was the real turning point of Susanna’s breakdown. After that episode she was sent to Claymore Mental Institute. Holden also has to deal with pressure from the adults around him but not as much as Susanna does. The pressure for Holden also comes from his parents. His father is a lawyer and well off. He was always making Holden do well and threatening to send him to military school if fails out of another school. Mr. Caulfield wants Holden to turn out like he did and make something of him.

Holden also had experiences in his life that Susanna did not. Holden had to deal with the death of his younger brother Allie. This was a really big contribution to his breakdown because he and Allie were really close and Holden thought the world of his brother. “He was two years younger than I was, but he was about fifty times as intelligent. He was terrifically intelligent…He was also the nicest, in lots of ways” (38). After Allie died Holden went punched out all the windows in the garage

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