Peas in a Pod

Slyvia Plaths The Bell Jar and J.D. Salingers Catcher in the Rye are both well acclaimed novels that discuss a young adults transition into adulthood. Both novels consist of a first person narrative through the eyes of alienated, socially awkward young adult who further fall into a depression that ends up causing them both a mental breakdown. Esther Greenwood (The Bell Jar) and Holden Caulfield (Cather in the Rye) are two people that have trouble conforming into their respective society, thus causing them to push against the wave, which causes more problems as they go along. Both novels are set in the 1950’s, where societies have already set strict customs, beliefs, and standards regarding a persons standing into place. And in both of these settings, both characters have difficulty in meeting those standards, causing them to drift farther away from the norm of society. Holden and Esther both go through a journey where they discover what sex, love, loss, and grief mean to them all while finding what their true purpose in life is.

In Sylvia Plaths The Bell Jar, Esther Greenwood is a 19 year old woman who won trip to New York City through a writing completion that was sponsored by a fashion magazine. Originally, Esther had no intention of actually winning the contest, she simply applied for the writing itself. Esther has had no interest in the world of fashion before, during or even after her trip. During her stay at new york city, Esther was able to further grasp on what society expected out of her. Esther, being a 19 year old woman, was expected to find herself a good man, get married and have a family. However, she did not want that. (quote) Esther was more career-oriented which automatically set her apart from the norm. She did not see the appeal in becoming a house wife and a stay at home mom and so did whatever she could to avoid that. What she was interested in though, was becoming a poet and writer. While literature fascinated Esther, it was deemed useless to those around her. Her boyfriend, Buddy Willard, kept teasing her about her dreams and her mother, kept on suggesting Esther learned shorthand, “in case” her literary career doesn’t pan out. Learning of Buddy’s view towards Esthers aspirations caused her question her relationship with the man. Just like the rest of society, Buddy had set certain expectations for Esther, such as waiting until marriage to have sex, even if Buddy doesn’t have to wait himself. Learning of this double standard an Buddy’s actions over the summer, Esther broke up with him, refusing to comply to said double standard. Buddy has changed Esthers view on her virginity. Esther now believes that her virginity is a heavy burden but is hesitant to give it up because she thinks that once she does, society will view her as a whore. (quote).

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