comparison - catcher in the Rye and Igby goes down

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Through the bildungsroman novel Catcher in the Rye and film Igby Goes Down, the composers Salinger and Steers examine their society’s emphasis on conformity, prosperity and relationships and the effects they have on youth. Through a variety of literary and film techniques, such as juxtaposition, symbolism and camera angles, both Salinger and Steers explore the values of their respective 1950’s and early 21st century societies. The 1950’s American society and the modern American society both hold conformity in very high regard. Both societies had a deep focus on collectivism, with societal conventions encouraging all to “unify and simplify”. Both Catcher in the Rye and Igby Goes Down are a clear representation of the youth rejecting the value of conformity in their contextual societies. Both Salinger and Steers utilize the characterisation of their young protagonists, Holden and Igby, to epitomise non-conformity. Both characters, of wealthy background, have been expelled from numerous expensive private schools due to inability to fit with social norms. Holden cannot stand the concept of the expensive prep school moulding him into something he does not want to be and hence, he fails to apply himself and gets expelled. Holden considers Pency Prep school, a symbol of conformist society, as “phoney” and full of “morons”. Like Holden, Igby rejects the values of conformist society. Igby is sent to military school, an iconic institution of conformity, which Steers uses as physical representation of society’s pressure for Igby to conform. Ironically Igby smokes in front of the American Flag, a symbol of American values. Through the use of props and symbolism, Steers reveals how Igby, like Holden, rejects the idea of changing who you are to fit in with society. Both composers utilise their characters’ physical appearance and dialogue to reflect how they reject conformist

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