Rebel Without A Cause VS. The Catcher in the Rye

December 8, 2010
By Samantha Skelton SILVER, Shadow Hills, California
Samantha Skelton SILVER, Shadow Hills, California
5 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Holden Caulfield, from The Catcher in the Rye, and Jim Stark, from the film Rebel without a Cause, are both teenage protagonist characters in the 1950’s.The two can relate as both of them struggle with transitions from childhood innocence to adulthood and their paradoxical way of living, but how they deal with their honor is the key that differentiates their stories.

As Holden Caulfield and Jim Stark’s stories lead them on two separate journeys, honor is a factor they subconsciously both experienced. It matters to Jim, as does Holden, that he maintains a reputable person and covers up his innermost thoughts of staying innocent, for example, when Jim and Ray, the Sheriff, are talking, Ray starts off by saying,
“You had a good start in the wrong direction back there. Why'd you do it?”
“Whaddya mean? Mess a kid up?”
“Called me a chicken”( Rebel Without A Cause).
Jim feels that he needs to live up to what society has painted as a young man, not a little boy. Just as Holden feels the need to bash the person’s face in who wrote a nasty thing on the wall at Phoebe’s school, they’re in it to protect the things that make their world go round. Caulfield and Stark also both have conflicts in their lives without a role model figure. When both characters seek answers in their elders, like Holden asks the cab driver for closure, Jim searches for them in his Father as he says, “You better give me something! You better give me something fast!”(Rebel Without A Cause). To Jim, his father is just another Pal, not someone to look up to, to set guidelines and standards for him. He feels that he grows up each time his father doesn’t give him an answer, he has to find it on his own and that really pushes him to the limit. As both characters make their way day by day, they find themselves in more frustration than alleviation.

Even as Jim and Holden hold honor dear to their hearts, it is how they each handled it that resulted in different outcomes of their tales. For example, instead of going to extremes to protect his pride like Jim, Holden cares more about the loss of Other’s innocence and honor, as well as the need to stay behind and protect them, like when he says, “I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be…anyway, I kept picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all… what I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff”( The Catcher in the Rye). Holden strolls along in life, figuring out that he can live and learn if his pride is diminished or not. Jim, on the other hand seems to put himself in make or break situations and stretches his honor to his limits. It is the closeness that the two pushed or held what is dearest to them that changed their ambitions entirely. Both protagonists deal with the border line of transitioning into adulthood, Jim pretends to be grownup but can face reality more quickly, and Holden actually tries so hard to be an adult, he cannot see it is only himself in the way. For example, when Holden pays for a prostitute to come to his hotel room he says, “Nothings the matter. The thing is, I had an operation very recently”( The Catcher in the Rye). Holden copies the “phony” adults and their actions and criticizes them about it, only to realize he is not as grown up as he wants to be. Holden cannot leave that innocent essence, unlike Jim.

Just like anybody else, Holden Caulfield and Jim stark live with every day struggles including love, pureness, repressed feelings, identity, and most of all honor. Their paradoxical personalities and behavior contradict themselves, yet at the same time agree. Two different stories with one of the same major themes in common, yet how they latched onto that and took care of that, is how it changed their classic stories.

The author's comments:
Very often to people not recognize the similarities between timeless classics; this piece helps bring those realizations to life

Similar Articles


This article has 1 comment.

PW@@ said...
on Mar. 19 2011 at 3:02 pm
Very well thought-out, great ref. thanks!

Parkland Book