p.p1 16, 1951 and greatly impacted American fiction. Salinger

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Both ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ and ‘The Shock of the Fall’ each address the idea of Bildungsroman, as the authors explore the experiences of teenage boys facing mental health issues and grief. Salinger and Filer present their protagonists as outsiders, isolated from society. The reader is often encouraged to have sympathy towards these teenagers, some arguing that the modern reader is always on the side of the outsider. 
‘The Catcher in the Rye’ was published on July 16, 1951 and greatly impacted American fiction. Salinger was born in New York 1919, and came from a wealthy family. While studying at Columbia he look up a creative writing class and sustained his interest in writing through his teenage years. Like Holden, he faced mental health problems after he fought in World War II. In a Nuremberg hospital he was treated for ‘battle fatigue’, now known as post-traumatic-stress-disorder. Many believe this contributed to his portrayal of mental health in  ”The Catcher in the Rye’, published July 16 1951.Salinger didn’t predict the novel’s success or the impact on American literature. In his later years, he appears to mirror Holden’s actions as an outsider. He moved to New Hampshire, rarely granting interviews or public appearances, as he loathed his found fame and literary criticism displeasing. 
The more modern novel ‘The Shock of the Fall’, published January 7 2014. Before his award winning debut novel, Filer was a psychiatric nurse for ten years, and he later became a mental health researcher in the University of Bristol. Filer drew is his presentation of Matthew’s mental health issues from his experience working with mental health patients and researching various conditions. 
Each author’s reader would have been very different attitudes. in the 1950’s their was a lack of education on mental health issues, including a stigma surrounding those struggling with poor mental health. There was little understanding of these conditions, some even believing it was a punishment from God. However, in the 21st century society is a lot more accepting as mental health problems are common and people are being educated. Regardless, each author has illustrated how their protagonist has become an outsider to society despite the era, and explore how their battle with mental health, grief and coming of age effects their experiences in isolation.

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Both Salinger and Filer portray ideas about their protagonists through their titles. ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ “relates to the song “Comin’ Thro’ the Rye” which about wanting to have a romantic encounter with someone in a field away from the public eye. Holden gets the lyrics wrong thinking the lyric says “catch” instead of “meet”, which ironically has sexual connotations. A main idea in the novel is how Holden wants to catch children before they fall out of innocence into knowledge of the adult world. This being his sole ambition in life makes him an outsider.
Additionally, in ‘The Shock of the Fall’ illustrates the idea of Matthew falling and Simon coming to save him, as Matthew references the title of the book. Alternatively, it may portray the idea of Matthew falling into madness and becoming the outsider.

A common theme in literature is the idea of coming of age or bildungsroman. In ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ Salinger uses various concepts of narrative voice to portray Holden’s young, teenage persona. His constant use of profanity conveys his young rebellious side, although he seems to dislike certain words. By recognising the inappropriate nature of this language, and wanting to avoid young children seeing the graffiti he shows maturity. Salinger successfully creates an authentic teenage voice for Holden, as he often uses vague expression throughout the novel. He always says whatever is on his mind, but often doesn’t draw conclusions.  The reader sees the world through Holden’s eyes, which carries a tone of authority. With Holden’s lack of descriptions, he uses a lot of dialogue to introduce characters. Therefore, we often meet people with Holden, creating a casual conversational tone. He dislikes majority of the people in society, often referring to everyone as “phony”. The repetition of this idea emphasises Holden’s isolation from society. The modern reader may take pity on him as an outsider, as he is clearly exposed to the cruelties of this world and shows signs of maturing.
Furthermore, Salinger’s use of episodic structure presents how he is maturing, even in the three day time period. There appear to be four ‘episodes’; Holden leaves Pencey, he goes to the Edmont Hotel, he returns home and reunites with Phoebe. Throughout his experience around New York, he seems to become more aware of the society, while simultaneously his mental state deteriorates. Throughout the novel, Holden is constantly trying to fit in with various social groups, compulsively lying, and trying to be someone he’s not, emphasising the fact that he is an outsider. The modern reader, with greater understanding of his mental state is likely to be on his side. 
Salinger uses a wide range of symbolism to illustrate Holden’s isolation further. His red hunting hat is a common theme, representing Holden’s uniqueness and insecurities. Salinger uses colour imagery insinuates Holden’s rebellious side. The hat is so distinct, as Holden seems to appreciate individuality, although he doesn’t wear it around people he knows. Salinger hints that it mirrors the conflict between Holden’s isolation and his longing for intimacy. The museum symbolises the world he wishes he could live in and how Holden is troubled by change. Additionally, the Carrousel and gold ring at the end of the novel represents the risk children experience when they enter adulthood, the transition Holden finally accepts. (emotional quote) The modern reader appreciates this realisation, and is encouraged to take Holden’s side as an outsider. 

“The Shock of the Fall” also contains a range of methods to illustrate the protagonist’s  experience of coming of age. Filer uses a similar conversational tone to allow Matthew to describe the world through his eyes. There’s often a tone of nostalgia as he remembers happy memories from his childhood. Additionally, the chapter where he describes his experience on the morning of his GCSE results carries a tone of regret as he assumes his mothers actions.  The modern reader may have sympathy towards him as an outsider, as they’re likely to be aware of the affects of a mental illness.
Furthermore, Filer adopts an irregular narrative shift. Matthew appears to jump back and forth while explaining various experiences throughout his life. This can happen when someone distracts him, when a word triggers a memory or when he feels he needs to clarity something. (disease definition) His habit of referring to earlier years insinuates that he is refusing to face adulthood out of fear of his mental illness, therefore making him an outsider. In this case, the modern reader is likely to take his side.

A topic heavily referred to in each of these novels is grief, and the effects it has on the protagonists. Similar to Matthew, Holden jumps back and forth through his past and present life as Salinger’s attempt to illustrate a confused teenager. He casually refers back to his brother’s death, purely focusing on his physical response. (garage quote) The grief Holden experienced ultimately resulted in his exclusion from society, causing the modernr eader to feel sympathy and take his side. 
A prominent symbol in the beginning of the novel is Allie’s baseball glove. It represents Holden’s love for his brother’s individualistic qualities through colour imagery of the green ink. Additionally, it distinguishes the brothers, as Allie’s mitt is a fielder’s glove whereas Holden’s ambition is to be a ‘Catcher in the Rye’. Moreover, Salinger uses various methods to demonstrate Holden’s grief. There is a consistent repetition of the words “lonesome” and “depressed” as Holden descends into madness. Additionally, physiognomy is used when Holden describes Allie’s red hair, and contrasts it to his own grey hair. (quote) Finally, Salinger consistently uses flashbacks to help explain Holden’s view of society. His negative mindset encourages the reader to take his side, as Salinger suggests that he has been excluded by the adult world.  

Alternatively, Filer uses Matthew’s hallucinations to give the reader an internal look at his illness, helping them to understand his actions. The author’s use of narrative is to fulfil his need to communicate with others and to show his attempt to not be confined by his conditions. Filer adopts a disjointed, fragmented structure throughout his novel, portraying a lack of narrative cohesion. The reader can become unsure of how to distinguish between Matthew’s past and present, as they seem to bleed into each other. The author uses a wide range of symbolism to represent the protagonist’s grief. Matthew’s medication symbolises his attempt to escape to reality as it allows him to take time alone to remove himself. Filer portrays how Matthew’s schizophrenic symptoms alters his memories. The reader is able to see that as his mental state worsens, he can replay and alter his early years, and empathises with him as he pushes himself into isolation the more he believes he’s talking to Simon. Furthermore, Filer represents Simon’s death through the symbol of the doll, as Matthew lays it under his dying brother’s head. The author insinuates that it acts as a safety blanket, providing Matthew with a sense of peace amongst his grief and guilt. Additionally, the idea of the atoms symbolises his longing to see Simon again, carrying a youthful tone due to his childlike perception on the world . Filer adopts various methods to emphasise the protagonist’s intense bereavement. The imagery of the ‘Eastenders’ scene triggers empathy in the reader, as it vocalises how Matthew feels to have lost Simon and carries a tone of heartbreak – something the reader may be able to relate to.  Finally, Filer introduces the simile “I move the memory around the flat like a piece of furniture”, to visualise Matthew’s schizophrenic symptoms and his internal thoughts. The modern is likely to empathise with each of the authors description of the protagonists, as they use various methods and techniques to present them as outsiders.

Another key theme of these novels is mental health, as each protagonist face challenges in this area. In ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ Salinger takes advantage of sentence structure through the use of simple, loosely constructed sentences. He also creates an authentic teenage voice with the use of punctuation. This results in a rhythm which constructs a casual spoken style instead of written. Salinger’s use of an episodic structure results in a lack of time sequence – there’s no rational beginning, middle or end. This represents is frantic mental state. Additionally, a major symbol adopted by Salinger in this novel is the ducks. Symbolising escape, Salinger reveals Holden’s curious, intuitive side and rare willingness. The protagonist is viewed as an outsider, as he recognises other outsiders, including in nature. (ice cracking) Their migration presents how change isn’t always permanent. (KT)

Additionally, Filer highlights Matthew’s mental state through his lack of awareness for the world around him, and how his schitzophrenic symptoms blurs his reality and imagination, “I can’t separate the real from the imagined”. The author portrays his mental deterioration through the use of interior monolgue, different fonts and fragmented structure. Furthermore, he embellishes descriptions but admits he struggles to remember some things. Filer adopts a non-linear structure as another representation of the protagonist’s mental deterioration. Similar to Salinger, his novel has an episodic nature though the use of two setting; his apartment and the hospital. Moreover, the chapters range in length, the short chapters portraying how he’s easily distracted (and finds it difficult to tell his story due to his intense guilt.) Filer uses a range of symbols to portray Matthew’s state of mental health. Annabelle symbolises him becoming an outsider and his loss os innocence, which is explored in ‘The Catcher in the Rye’. The author symbolises Matthew’s mental decline through the typewriter, as the frantic sound as he types his inferred. It is the his only connection to the real world, and allows him to reflect on his schizophrenia and the details of Simon’s death. Filer implies to the reader that Matthew feels he lives in a different world as his past continues to change. Finally, the author further highlights the protagonist’s mental state through the use of various methods. The personification of his illness implies Matthew’s internal authentic voice – an intimate look into his mind. On one occasion, Filer adopts the repetition of “day after day after day…” and the repeated details of his injection throughout the novel. This reveals Matthew’s perspective to the reader, triggering empathy for him in the mental hospital. Filer’s wide use of type, like bold, use of italics or fading text resembles Matthew’s frantic mental state and embodies his schizophrenic symptoms. Additionally, his use of sibilance, “I have an illness, a disease with the shape and sound of a snake”, again highlighting to the modern reader his view of the world and of his mental state. 

However, at times the reader may be discouraged from feeling empathy towards the protagonists on several occasions. In ‘The Catcher in the Rye’, Salinger presents negative aspects of Holden’s personality. Firstly, he is often hypocritical. For example, ((movie e.g.)). Additionally, Salinger emphasises his judgement of society through his repetition of “phoniness” , as we often find him using this language referring to strangers. The modern reader would be very unimpressed with his view of women, has he holds more traditional, very disrespectful position. ((3 girls in bar quote)) The author constantly reminds the reader of Holden’s compulsive lying, for example (name)’s mum on the train, the nuns, prostitute and the taxi drivers. Some could say it’s a cry for help as he wants to escape from his life, but others argue that he takes advantage of those around him and manipulates their trust and innocence. Especially when he lies about have cancer to Sunny. On his date with Sally, the modern reader is likely to take her side, as he offends her and appears even bipolar. To a traditional audience, Holden’s constant use of profanity would cause them to loose respect for him instead of empathise with him, however a modern reader is likely to be more understanding. 
Furthermore, there are occasion where the modern reader may dislike Matthew’s actions. He appears to push everyone away who cares for him – nanny noo, the nurse, his parents (moving out). Instead they are more likely to empathise with the people he excludes from his life. However, Matthew’s mental illness appears more apparent, as the modern reader with be more aware of the affects of schizophrenia, therefore his behaviour may be viewed as understandable. Whereas, Salinger presents Holden as a mooning, judgmental teen who can only blame himself for his problems. Additionally, it must be considered that ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ is a three day screenshot of Holden’s life, where as Filer explores nineteen years of Matthew’s life with the reader. 

In conclusion, the modern reader is inclined to take the side of the outsider. They are educated on mental health issues and have a greater understanding of the effects grief can have on young people, and the challenge of growing up. Additionally, the protagonists who evidence of kindness and compassion to others, especially to other outsiders, therefore encouraging empathy from the modern reader. However, each character arguably pushes loved ones away – perhaps Holden more so as Matthew’s mental illness more medically recognised and presented clearly throughout the novel. Ultimately, Salinger and Filer encourage the modern reader to feel empathy towards their protagonists, as they will recognise that no one is perfect.