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EXISTENTIAL CRISIS IN JEROME DAVID SALINGER?S THE CATCHER IN THE RYE AND SAUL BELLOW?S HERZOG

Abstract

Author(s): Roger Alan TunAS*

Jerome David Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye and Saul Bellow’s Herzog were both written and published in the early second half of the 20th century, when significant changes were taking place in the social structure of American society as a result of the Second World War. And these changes, as well as the results they brought about are evidently reflected in both of the novels. Although the protagonists of the books Holden Caulfield, a college student who fails all the classes he takes, except for English; and Moses Herzog, a university professor who apparently has the potential to transform the social structure of the world, seem completely different from each other at first glance, a close reading of the novels shows us that the psychological processes they undergo and the existential vacuum that is caused by these processes are very much alike. In this paper it will be argued that both Caulfield and Herzog, who have been frequently associated with the writers of the novels, are going through an existential crisis. The symptoms as well as the causes of this existential crisis will be analyzed in relation to the socio-cultural transformations that took place in post war America.

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