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The Catcher in the Rye

by J. D. Salinger
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Identify similarities between The Catcher in the Rye and A Passage to India.

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One particular similarity between both works is the idea of the culture clash.  In Salinger's work, Holden's beliefs and his demeanor are ones that clash with the immediate conformist culture around him.  It is for this reason that he cannot remain in school and does not find much in way of acceptance in the world around him.  Holden clashes with the world because he is so fundamentally different from it.  In Forster's work, culture clash is evident in how the British and Indians are incapable of reconciling their differences.  The British wish to superimpose their world on the Indians and find a clash, while the Indians are unable to fully adapt to the ways of the British.  In their own ways, both cultures represent a type of Holden Caulfield in that one will view the other as an outsider and be viewed as an outsider.  Just as Holden is an outsider from his own world, so are individuals of each cultural extension in the eyes of another.

I think that another similarity between both works is that the cultural division that prompts individuals to being outside of acceptance are too difficult to overcome. Holden is shown to be unable to fully overcome the differences he holds in the social world in which is he is immersed.  His love for Allie not withstanding, Holden's narrative ends with him being relegated to the outside.  He is marginalized, unable to overcome the barriers that have placed him in such a position.  The cultural clash in Forster's work represents the same time of formidable obstacle that cannot be overcome. The friendship between Aziz and Fielding is seen as one that cannot transcend the cultural reality that divides them. Indians are presented as being "outside" of British acceptance.  The British are shown as being "outside" of Indian acceptance.  Like Holden, individuals are relegated to positions of "outsider" and not being able to overcome the barriers that prevent full immersion.

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