The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Catcher in the Rye wonderfully express the thoughts, and feelings that typically run through the average teenagers mind. In each of these stories, the main character is left searching for his true identity. Huck Finn’s journey leads him to question the beliefs others have imposed upon him since his youth. While Holden Caulfield is a very confused and depressed person who desperately seeks acceptance, and companionship. Both characters are experiencing life as independent people, each having their own unique qualities, but in general they are both learning that in order to survive and make the right decisions, they need to mature.
Holden Caulfield and Huck Finn share many of the same characteristics. For one thing, they both tend to lie a lot. Holden lied to nearly everyone he met, one example of his deception was when he met the mother of Ernest Morrow on the train to New York. He told her how popular, kind, and modest her son was despite how Holden hated him. Huck also lies a lot, but usually he only deceives people to protect himself and Jim. This occurs when he dressed up as a girl to find out what the rumors of Jim’s whereabouts were. They have many other similar qualities such as not conforming to society. Whether it was by choice or not, Huck and Holden paved their own paths, they tried to figure out what was right and wrong for themselves instead of following what everyone else said.
The characters Huck Finn and Holden Caulfield share a special bond. Both boys are the most unlikely of heroes, they lie, deceive, act irresponsibly, yet they get the point across. Also, there is a connection between the companions of each character. Holden’s closest friend is his younger sister Phoebe, while Huck’s adventure is centered around the slave Jim. Slaves of that period were treated at worst as animals, and at best simple children. Jim and Phoebe were on the same level for they were there for support, and could differentiate right from wrong, but they didn’t know enough to fully understand what Huck and Holden were mentally going through.
Huck Finn is living the life of an average teenager until he finds himself helping the slave, Jim escape from his master. These actions go against everything Huck has been taught so far, and is also against the law. Huck is in a tricky predicament where he has to decide whether or not to go through with helping Jim escape or to turn him in. This forces a reflection of his morals and an evaluation of Huck’s conscience. In the end, Huck decides to follow his heart by not turning Jim in. This shows great loyalty, and maturity on Huck’s part to go against the law by doing what he knew was right.
Holden Caulfield was deeply, emotionally scarred from the death of his brother Allie, which obviously affects his decision making skills. He falls into a deep depression where he doesn’t seem to care that he failed out of four different schools. Holden lies incessantly yet he says that he hates phonies. He sees all the faults in other people without realizing his own imperfections. By the time he comes to the realization that he isn’t as perfect as he would have thought, it is too late and he is institutionalized. Although he was sent to an institution, just before he understood that he could not prevent children from growing up, and that he himself needed to mature.
Holden’s journey didn’t end as idealy as he may have hoped, but at least he finally recognized the need to get over Allie’s death and move on with his life. Huck was able to figure out for himself as Holden did the need for maturity in society. Huck exhibited an excellent example of selflessness in this story, therefore he successfully overcame one of life’s toughest obstacles. Each character had a personal battle they needed to surmount, and both Holden and Huck triumphed.
The two characters also have many differences in their actions and lifestyles. Holden is more restricted in his reactions to certain situations. He is not very sure of himself, nor is he brave. Huck on the other hand, is not afraid to take initiative, like when he ran away from home with Jim. Holden was too afraid to leave, he only thought about going away to New Hampshire, or out West.