Do you ever feel if you ever go against the rules of society you’ll be punished? We live in a society where you feel stereotyped if you slip up just once you feel exiled. And once you have that mind of exile, you start to feel isolated and not deemed to fit in with the rest of the crowd. It is a terrible feeling, and it will stick with like a tattoo and you will remember forever. Two prime examples of this is exemplified in the novel The Catcher in the Rye and the film Finding Forrester. In the J.D. Salinger novel, The Catcher in the Rye, Holden gets kicked out of his boarding school for his grades, but he doesn’t want his parents to find out that he got kicked out, so he kicks it in the city for a little bit where goes through moments in life he wasn’t ready for. In the time he was in the city, he began to drink, he met prostitutes, didn’t sleep for days, and was lonely virtually the whole time. After he talks to his former English teacher, he links up with his sister at the end and ends up being in a mental hospital. Meanwhile, in the film Finding Forrester, Jamal is an average student grade wise but is above average in his wits. After a dare, he befriends an isolated man in a nearby apartment building. That man happens to be the former author William Forrester. He takes his talents over to Mailor Callow where he excels both in the classroom and on the basketball court. His feud with his Professor Crawford takes a hit when Jamal is accused of plagiarism on a William Forrester piece. Between the novel and movie, the connections between the two pieces of literature is all about isolation and fitting in. Characters and theme can be compared and contrasted in the sense that the characters Jamal and Holden try to help others veer away from isolation and protect weaker people.
In the movie Finding Forrester, the main character Jamal, is best described as a kid who hides his smarts to keep up with his peers. It’s quite evident that Jamal is smart as we see in his room that it is stacked with classic books. Yet once he goes outside he goes from being unseen genius to a C average student. Even more blatant that he’s smart is that his test scores are off the charts. The reason Jamal is unwilling to come out with his cleverness is that he is only gets acceptance on the basketball court. When him and his friends are playing basketball they’re not the ones watching. They always notice a man looking through the blinds watching them. So one night Jamal goes into the apartment with the intention of looking at the man’s apartment he gets nervous and flees the apartment but leaves his journal full of his writing at the apartment. Meanwhile Jamal is recruited to attend Mailor Callow. After an assignment about the writer William Forrester, Jamal concludes that Forrester is the man in the window. Forrester does identify himself and agrees to help Jamal write but he cannot say anything about Forrester, which Jamal agrees too. Jamal then takes William out of the house but he suffers an anxiety attack after being unable to handle the crowds. Jamal makes it up and takes him to Yankee Stadium where Forrester reveals his past and his family and how he felt responsible for the death of his brother. Later on, Forrester helps Jamal with essays but tells him not to show them to anyone. Jamal breaks the promise unknowingly when he submit’s a paper that Forrester actually wrote and Jamal is accused of plagiarism. Jamal refuses to say anything about the piece. But the school cuts him a deal and says if he wins the state championship in basketball, then they will drop the charges. At the game Jamal just basically stops caring and may have purposely missed the last two free throw shots to lose the game. Then the writing contest comes up and Jamal surprisingly shows up. And then Forrester shows up as well and is permitted to read an essay. The reading is heavily applauded even Professor Crawford. Forrester admits that Jamal wrote the essay. They reconcile and William heads back to his homeland of Scotland. Jamal eventually meets up with Forrester’s lawyer to tell him that he had cancer and in return for Jamal give Forrester a reason to live, he gets the keys to the apartment and a package. The package is Forrester’s second novel left for Jamal to write the foreword. Forrester wants Jamal to follow his dreams even though ‘we walk away from our dreams’ (Finding Forrester).
Two men, that can be considered in the literary world very alike, is William Forrester and J.D. Salinger. They both had experiences with the war that were life changing for them. Forrester had his older brother who was normal before the war but after he was a different person. He had a big drinking problem and he was depressed. He later died in a car accident that William felt guilt over. J.D. Salinger on the other hand was in the war. Salinger, like Forrester’s brother, had virtually been to hell and back and were both altered by it. Salinger ”did not escape the war without some trauma and when it ended, he was hospitalized after suffering a nervous breakdown’ (Salinger 2). That’s another thing that they are alike, their nervous breakdowns. Salinger had them after the war, Forrester had one when he panicked in a public crowd. They are as well alike in which when they released their first novels, they were the most famous writers. Forrester ‘s book was considered a classic and J.D. Salinger, after writing The Catcher in the Rye ”vaulted Salinger to a level of unrivaled literary fame’ (Salinger 2). Lastly they had plenty of unpublished work. Forrester had stacks of novels he wrote that were not published while Salinger ”may have many as 10 finished novels locked away in his house’ (Salinger 3)
Similar to the similarities to the aforementioned men, Jamal and Holden do have many similarities as well. In the beginning of the both the novel and film it’s obvious the two men have huge potential. Holden is at one of the top boarding schools in the country and Jamal is secretly a genius. So they both have their hidden talent. Another big thing they had was the way the disagreed with their teachers. Holden doesn’t think the yelling of ‘digression’ when someone goes off topic is a great way of teaching. He actually doesn’t do it and sticks up for his classmates when they get called out and eventually fails the class because of his disagreement. Jamal as well doesn’t like his teacher and his ways best exemplified when Crawford picks out Coleridge and humiliates him in front of the class but Jamal too, sticks up for his classmate but doesn’t fail, he just gets kicked out. ‘The rest of those who have gone before us cannot steady the unrest of those who follow’ (Finding Forrester).
The biggest comparison to be made between The Catcher in the Rye and Finding Forrester is the two scenes where Jamal challenges Mr. Crawford, similar as to how Holden challenges Mr. Vinsons in the novel. In Mr. Vinson’s oral expression class he had students yell out ‘digression’ during someone’s speech if it was going off topic. Mr. Vinsons told them to unify and simplify. He represents the authority in the novel and can be compared to Professor Crawford. Holden says it himself ‘He could drive you crazy sometimes, him and the god dam class’ (Salinger 185) Between the two, it’s clear that if you go against society, you are punished. In the book, you fail the class and are humiliated when you get yelled at by others. In the movie, Crawford embarrasses you. So, Jamal is like Holden in the way that they both try to protect a weaker student and get punished for it. Jamal protects Coleridge and Holden protects Richard Kinsella. Kinsella and Coleridge are similar as well. Both are ‘nervous and’ obviously do not like to be put on the spot.
In society authors hide their criticism in literary works. J.D. Salinger was able to do this in perfection he was able to criticize the way society works when it comes to isolation and fitting in. In both the novel and film they both showed that the characters are compared to going away from isolation and helping out weaker people. ‘Some creative writers are superior to others solely because their critical faculty is superior.’ (Eliot)
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