Catcher in the Rye and The Perks of Being a Wallflower are both very mature young adult works of art that leads its viewers and readers into the light of teenage life, but also into the darkness and secrets of what truly being a teenager is. Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger, is an adult novel, commonly read by adolescents, about Holden Caulfield talking about his adventures after being kicked out of Pencey Prep while being treated in a mental hospital, even though he does not specifically say the location, the readers get hints as he explains. While The Perks of Being a Wallflower, directed by Stephen Chbosky, is a coming-of-age film about Charlie who writes letters to an unnamed recipient about all of his trials and experiences as he goes through life as a freshman in high school. Catcher in the Rye and The Perks of Being a Wallflower both have many similarities and differences in not only their characters and storyline, but also themes, especially with their theme of going through the pain of growing up.
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The Catcher in the Rye is a portrayal of a young teenage boy at odds with the development of growing up. As a 16-year-old protagonist who is exceedingly demanding of the grown-up world, Holden craves what he sees as natural purity of youth. “I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start going over the cliff… I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all… that’s the only thing I’d really like to be” (173), this symbolizes how Holden would like to catch all the children before they dive into corruption similarly to how he did, before they get contaminated. While it is appropriate to say the novel is all about Holden’s growth into maturity, but its main focus is to show how he is resisting the process of maturity itself. As his assessment about the Museum of Natural History exhibit, Holden fears the change within himself and is overwhelmed. He wants everything in life to stand still as a constant, to be effortlessly understandable, like every single statue of an Eskimo and Indian in the museum, “The best thing, though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was… Nobody’d be different. The only thing that would be different would be you” (121). Rather than recognizing that adulthood panics and perplexes him, Holden imagines a dream that adulthood is a universe of triviality and false reverence (“phoniness”), while youth is a universe of guiltlessness, interest, and trustworthiness.
Meanwhile, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the portrayal of a 15-year-old boy trying to enjoy “growing up” and fully immersing himself in the new high school life. By conflict, crisis, and resolution, Chbosky draws both Charlie and the reader to prove that friendship is crucial for overcoming the tougher moments of life. His elements of narrative help the reader fully understand the characters and themes of the novel to create a work that appeals to their audience.