Coming of Age in To Kill a Mockingbird and Catcher in the Rye

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Coming Of Age In To Kill A Mockingbird And Catcher In The Rye

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Differences in the Two Novels
  • Similarities of the Two Novels
  • Conclusion


Coming-of-age literature addresses the transition phases that a main character undergoes from youth to adulthood. Both Kill a Mockingbird and The Catcher in the Rye novels spell out the basic transitions that the protagonists undergo that build an equitable understanding of the world around them. The two authors bring out different environments that influence the development of a person’s maturity. This essay compares the two novels’ points of view on Coming of age.

Differences in the Two Novels

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In the novel Kill a Mockingbird, Scout and Jem are presented through situations that lead them towards adulthood. Scout matures and develops a grown up perspective that aid her in understanding and coping in the world around her. The novel highlights themes of racism, injustice that unveil themselves even in the present days. The Finches undergo torment from their neighbors after Scouts father, Atticus defends a black man believed to have raped a white woman. Through her father, Scout learns that in order to understand others, one has to consider things from their points of view. She learns that, people must be respected for whom they are and not for what they appear to be. For instance, in her younger days, she believed all the rumors about Radley Place but as she grew, her understanding of people helped change her perspective towards Boo Radley. It is through this innocence portrayed by her father Atticus, as he defends his clients in court that enable Scout to connect the dots. Throughout the novel, Scout demonstrates an art of maturity and readiness to learn from her well-learned father. She’s able to acquire at most understanding of people and is acts in a more lady-like way.

On the other hand, Salinger argues in his book, The Catcher in the Rye, that coming of age has to be characterized by struggles of life in order for one to come into being a grown up. The protagonist, Holden begins in an unrest life and struggles all the way up. He faces mockery and detestation from both his teachers and colleagues. These struggles trigger Holden to view himself as inferior and he believes that life is only be fair to those who are advantaged. Holden considers himself among the unlucky ones, an immature thinking that see him lag behind for quite a while. Holden is kicked out of school for failing to score well. This behavior portrays Holden as acting more like a child than a teenager and unfortunately, it does not come to his realization. Holden choses to hide from the society [through his red hat] as he perceives that no one cares about him. Holden later is able to learn and becomes mature although he later collapses at the end of the novel.

Similarities of the Two Novels

Both Harper and Salinger focus on the coming of age of young characters in their novels. Despite the fact that the protagonists are subjected in different environments, a mature being is realized at the end of the novel. In both novels, the characters are challenged for instance, Scout and her father are faced with torments from people when her father defends a black man in court against a white lady. Likewise, Holden is faced with mockery from his teachers and is often referred to as ‘boy’ a name that upsets him.


According to the above point-out, coming of age is satisfactorily argued out. The characters are raised from different backgrounds, subjected to different factors of upbringing but at the end a mature nature is manifested. For instance, Scout is brought up in a serene setting thus shows maturity all through. However, Holden’s life is full of turmoil and unrest and has to struggle in his quest for maturity.

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