Huck Finn Escape
How do Salinger and Twain present the ideas of escape in the two novels? First of all the two authors wrote their books in different times and their ideas of escape will differ, for example Huck was written in the late 1800’s when slavery was still rife in many of the southern regions of America the idea of escape has a literal meaning. Alternately to this Catcher in the Rye was written in the 1940’s and depicts the societies of the then modern America. The ideas of escape were mainly within Holden’s head and not literal forms of escape.
Huckleberry also wants to escape the adult control he has experience, he wishes to have a life in which he is a wanderer and regards all the things that society believe as right as oppressive and evil. Similarly to Huck, Holden wants to flee the world of expectations set by his parents and his private boarding school. He leaves school early before Christmas and experiences a sequence of unforeseen problems and in consequence his ends up in a psychiatric home with no hope left of his wanted freedom.
One of the most visible similarities between The Catcher in the Rye and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is the way in which the authors use the protagonists as a means to comment on the society of the time in which they were set. However, Holden can be criticised for being excessively judgmental setting him apart from the world of Huck who in comparison is much more descriptive than hypocritical. Whether it would be his older brother D. B. who Holden labels a “prostitute” for moving to Hollywood, his teachers who act different or “phony” in class, he seems to have a negative comment for almost anyone and everyone he meets.
This could be due to his psychological issues he’s suffering with. Not knowing whether he wants to be an adult or a child, his constant grasp on his childhood whilst heading into his certain adulthood. For example when he’s with Phoebe at the carrousel he wants to join her and revel in his childhood but knows he can’t do that because of his age. Alternatively Huckleberry’s escape is physical compared to Holden’s; Huck is running away from his childhood contrary to Holden who wishes to hold on to it.
Huckleberry wishes to grow up quickly and have his own life and take care of himself at just the tender age of 13/14. He wishes to rid himself of anyone’s hold on him, including the widow and his own Pap. His pap being the main person Huck wishes to flee from, he takes it upon himself to cut his way out of the shack he’s been sharing with his father and take supplies to hide is his boat that he acquired. This show’s his level of maturity and that he old before his time and isn’t really appreciative of his childhood.
They both have concepts of family but both boys have different appreciations of theirs. For instance Huckleberry doesn’t appreciate his Pap or even his guardian the Widow, who could be classed as his extended family. The only person we could say that he appreciates or even loves is Tom Sawyer, his best friend whom he classes as a brother. Holden, on the other hand very much loves his family mainly his younger sister Phoebe and his younger brother Aliie whom he misses dearly after his premature death.
In Catcher we see Holden’s family as one of the typical middle class families of the time. The boy’s dialects also show their mental and physical states. Huckleberry’s dialectal form is rushed and his narrative is almost as if he is hurrying through his escape and not speaking as if he is making it up as he goes along. It’s as if he has planned his escape and by him using abbreviations such as ‘yo’ for you helps the speed of his escape seem like its flowing and not stop starting and getting himself off on a tangent like Holden does constantly.
For example with Holden he speaks naturally and describes all the other characters naturally, like someone would when they are describing another person in a conversation. His language is normal for him at the time in which the book is set. He has minimal use of expletives but he uses the word ‘goddam’ an awful lot, he uses it to put emphasis on the things he is saying. Huck’s dialectal form is one that appears to be ill educated as he wishes to not have to go to school as he see’s it as something anchoring him to his childhood when that is all he wants to escape from.
Holden however goes to a private boarding school and the only subject he is doing well in is English, he has very good spoken and written dialect compared to Huck. However he still gets kicked out before Christmas because of his lack in good grades in other subjects. Having this happened more than once, Holden then decides he’d rather let his parents receive a letter from his school before he arrives home for Christmas and decides to spend time in new york again trying to escape from his childhood but ends up still wanting to be young. This has repercussions for the rest of the novel.
The boy’s sentence structure when they speak has to do with their dialect as well. Holden’s sentences are shorter when they’re full of emotion and longer when he babbles on about nothing. This is opposite to the more conventional way of forming sentences where longer sentences are used to convey emotions and shorter sentences convey confusion. This also show’s Holden’s mental state is deteriorating. Huck’s syntax is a mixture of shorter and longer sentences to make the novel flow at a speed in which Huck’s dialect makes it feel like it is going.
The boy’s also have two continuous objects that stay with them throughout their journey’s of escape. Huckleberry has his canoe boat, which he uses for his physical escape and hides in when the widow and his pap are looking for him. The boat is Huck’s safe zone and it is the anchor in which his escape is built around. He uses it to prepare his escape and to make his get away as well as get him to the island where he reconnects with Jim, and they hide out.
Holden’s constant object is his Red hat which he bought in New York on his fencing trip. The hat stays with him all the way through the novel and he uses it as a shield at time, from the things that are happening around him. The hat is his safety blanket, it would seem. He can’t be without his hat. During the carrousel section of the novel, Phoebe gives Holden his hat back and even though he is stood out in the rain watching his younger sibling have fun and relive her own childhood, he is happy because he has his hat back.
Even though the rain is pouring down on him his hat is on his head shielding him from the bitter weather, which could be seen as a metaphor for his adulthood, and his hat is preventing that from taking over him. In conclusion both Authors character’s struggle with their escape, but in very different ways, Huckleberry struggles to escape the childhood oppression that he is experiencing. Holden just wishes everyone would let him stay young and hold on to his favourite time, which was his childhood instead of being forced to become a adult which he despises.