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Essay/Term paper: A comparison of the catcher in the rye and the adventures of huck finn

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Huckleberry Finn

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The forthcoming of American literature proposes two distinct

Realistic novels portraying characters which are tested with a plethora

of adventures. In this essay, two great American novels are compared:

The Adventures of Huck Finn by Mark Twain and The Catcher In The Rye by

J.D. Salinger. The Adventures of Huck Finn is a novel based on the

adventures of a boy named Huck Finn, who along with a slave, Jim, make

their way along the Mississippi River during the Nineteenth Century.

The Catcher In The Rye is a novel about a young man called Holden

Caulfield, who travels from Pencey Prep to New York City struggling with

his own neurotic problems. These two novels can be compared using the

Cosmogonic Cycle with both literal and symbolic interpretations.

The Cosmogonic Cycle is a name for a universal and archetypal

situation. There are six parts that make up the cycle: the call to

adventure, the threshold crossing, the road of trials, the supreme test,

a flight or a flee, and finally a return. There are more parts they do

not necessarily fall into the same order, examples of these are symbolic

death and motifs. The Cosmogonic Cycle is an interesting way to

interpret literature because is Universal or correlates with any time

period and any situation.

The Call to Adventure is the first of the Cosmogonic Cycle. It is

the actual "call to adventure" that one receives to begin the cycle.

There are many ways that this is found in literature including going by

desire, by chance, by abduction, and by being lured by an outside

force. In The Adventures of Huck Finn, Huck is forced with the dilemma

of whether to stay with his father and continue to be abused or to

leave. Huck goes because he desires to begin his journey. In The

Catcher In The Rye, Holden mentally is torn between experience and

innocence, it would seem to him that an outside force is luring him to

do something but in actuality he is beginning his journey because of his

desire. The Call to Adventure is the first step in the Cosmogonic

Cycle, it is the step at which the character or hero is brought into


The Threshold Crossing is the second step, it is the place or the

person that which the character crosses over or through into the Zone

Unknown. The Zone Unknown being the place where the journey takes

place. The threshold crossing is often associated with a character

change or an appearance change. An example of this is in The Wizard of

Oz, when the movie goes from black and white to color, showing a visual

symbolic death. A symbolic death is another part to the Cosmogonic

Cycle of which the character goes through a change and emerges a more

complete person or more experienced. In The Adventures of Huck Finn, a

symbolic death is very apparent during the scene in which Huck sets up

his father"s cabin to look like Huck was brutally murder. Huck emerges

as a runway child and now must be careful of what he does, so that he

does not get caught. Huck also tells people false aliases for himself

so that no one knows his true identity. Every time that he does this he

is symbolically dying and reemerges a more experienced person. In The

Catcher In The Rye, Holden also uses fake names, but Holden symbolically

dies through fainting, changing the position of his red hunting hat, and

is associated with bathrooms. The bathroom motif, or the reoccurring

appearance of a bathroom, symbolizes death for Holden because he enters

bathrooms with a neurotic and pragmatic frame of mind and exits with a

cleared mind. The use of symbolic death and motifs is associated with

the Threshold Crossing, the second step of the Cosmogonic Cycle.

The Road of Trials is the next step in the Cosmogonic Cycle, which

are the obstacles which the character faces throughout the literary

work. In The Adventures of Huck Finn, Huck"s Road of Trials occurs on

the Mississippi River. He faces many obstacles, including moral

decisions of right and wrong, dealing with con-artists, and helping a

runaway slave. He promulgates more experienced from his journey down

the river on his raft. In The Catcher In The Rye, Holden"s Road of

Trials takes from Pencey Prep to New York City. Holden deals with his

own mental hallucinations, cognative disotience, and his desire to stay

innocence, his Peter Pan complex. The author does not end the novel

with a happy ending, from analyzing Holden"s experiences we can assume

he emerges a more complete and understanding person once he came to the

realization. The road of trials is the third step of the Cosmogonic

cycle in which the character or hero faces hardships or endeavors and

becomes more complete and experienced.

The Supreme Test or the Ultimate Test, is the forth step of the

Cosmogonic Cycle where the character or hero is faced with a dilemma of

enormous proportions, often found in the Zone of Magnified Power. The

Zone of Magnified Power is found within the Zone Unknown but is a place

which has mystical and mysterious powers, such as the Emerald City in

The Wizard of Oz. Huck is faced with the moral predicament of slavery

throughout the entire novel. This test or question continues to arise

many times throughout the novel. Huck is torn between right and wrong,

in fact he almost turns Jim, the runaway slave, in during his quest on

the river. In the end, Jim is captured and Huck decides to free Jim by

breaking him out of the confinement. In a sense Huck accomplishes his

Supreme Test by doing what he feels is morally right. On the other

hand, Holden"s Supreme Test is to accept growing up. He does not want

to grow up but takes in experience. The novel shows his dilemma through

the glass motif, the reoccurring presence of glass, glass being the

symbol through which one stops watching through and experiences. He

consistently tries to erase the "f—k yous" written everywhere and comes

to a realization when he can"t erase one because it is out of his reach

and behind the "glass." The glass motif also appears when his brother,

Allie, dies. When he is in the garage, he breaks the "glass" garage

door windows, essentially trying to escape his anger. The consequence

is that he ends up more confused than before even though he now has a

realization. The Supreme Test is often the high point of a literary

work and the character or hero usually receives some kind of reward

after being successful.

The fifth and sixth parts of the Cosmogonic Cycle, the flight or

flee and the return, can be combined into one instance. After the

character completes his obstacles and Supreme Test, he is allowed to

return to reality, the real world. Huck and Holden are both social

misfits and want to escape civilization. Huck chooses to leave and

"light out for the new territory." On the other hand, Holden has nowhere

to "light out" to, because the Twentieth Century America has no new

territory, consequently he is placed in a mental institute. The return

home is the reinstitution to reality as a more experienced and whole


William Wordsworth emphasizes in his "Ode to Intimations of

Immortality From Recollections of Early Childhood," using the following


"Though nothing can bring back the hour

Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;

We will grieve not, rather find

Strength in what remains behind;"

That we must put our idealistic picture of the world behind us and must

look at the world behind us and must look at it in a more realistic

plane. Children have an innocent perception of the world around them,

but as adults we realize the world is not black or white but various

colors. The Cosmogonic Cycle can be compared to the metamorphosis which

a caterpillar goes through. The caterpillar starts out innocent (black

and white) and goes through stages or obstacles to become a butterfly.

The caterpillar emerges colorful as well as more complete and



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