What would be a significant thematic motif shared in the film Dead Poets Society and The Catcher in the Rye?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that both works speak to the idea of not conforming to the expectations of the social order that surround an individual.  Certainly, Mr. Keating at Welton Academy is struggling to get his boys to understand the power of being unique.  The ideas of "carpe diem" and "gather ye rosebuds while ye may" are both literary elements that speak to this reality.  In Holden's world, Pencey Prep is a refuge where conformity and hypocrisy go hand in hand.  Holden's detest and loathing for "phonies" help to enhance the idea that if individuals are conformist, part of their authenticity disappears.  I think that this becomes an element that both works share regarding the relationship between the individual and their social order.  The latter is shown to be a corrupting influence in both works, and it can only be fully repelled and placed in a proper context when the individual asserts their own identity against such an element.  To this end, both works share the motif of individuality coming at a cost of conformity and that individuals, particularly young individuals, must do their best to prevent their own sense of uniqueness and authenticity from being washed away in a tide of social conformity.

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I wasn't aware that there ever was a film version of The Catcher in the Rye. I believe that Salinger refused all offers to sell film rights to the novel, and I doubt that such a film has ever been made. I have checked with Netflix and found not mention of such a film. No doubt Salinger had many offers. No doubt it would make a good film--if somebody got hold of it who didn't butcher it. I think Salinger despised Hollywood. I don't think the flakey film Dead Poet's Society deserves to be mentioned in the same breath with The Catcher in the Rye. The boys in Dead Poet's Society were terrible rebels, weren't they? They all stood on the tops of their desks. Wow!

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