The theme that can be found in both novels is Death of a character that the protagonist has knowledge of. The death of a character is seemed to a major theme because it affects the protagonist of the novel himself. In the Great Gatsby, the theme can be seen through 2 major events and in The Catcher in the Rye, the protagonist talks about 2 major deaths occurred throughout the novel. This theme relates both novels because both protagonists react in a comparable way when the death of a character occurs.
This theme also relates to today’s society. The death of a leader for example could affect the entire society. Without a leader, people can have many opportunities to control the society. This can cause them to roll off and have negative thoughts about society. Death is associated with every human’s life. It is one of the major loses a person experiences. Death of someone important sometimes makes the person think about the world in a whole new way. Or somethings a person gains knowledge about the reality.
In the novels the great Gatsby and the catcher in the rye the protagonists act in a different way when someone important dies. This is shown when the protagonist has a knowledge of a character whose death occurs and when someone, the protagonist has a close bond to, dies. The protagonist of the novel the catcher in the Rye talks about a kid he knew in his old school Elkton Hills and how he commits suicide. This shows the innocence of the protagonist “about six other dirty bastards, went down to James Castle’s room… tried to make him take back what he said… He was a skinny little weak-looking guy..
.. Instead of taking back what he said, he jumped out the window.” (Salinger 91).
When Holden witnesses the death of Castle, the kid he knew in his old school, he realizes how others like him, weak and innocent, react when they are assaulted. The idea of him witnessing a person that is weak and cannot protect himself makes him think about protecting the young kids, so they don’t have to go through what Holden has seen. Holden is shown to be a light hearted and innocent teen. His idea is to make everyone happy and not seeing anyone sad. Therefore, the death of his school mate shows the kindness and innocence of Holden. The protagonist of the novel The Great Gatsby also witnesses a death of an innocent person. Which shows the innocence of the protagonist himself.
“Myrtle Wilson’s body, wrapped in a blanket, and then in another blanket, as though she suffered from a chill in the hot night… ‘No, thanks.’ I was feeling a little sick and I wanted to be alone.” (Fitzgerald 79-81) The protagonist Nick witnesses a dead of a weak person who didn’t have the right to be free as she was trapped in her own house. Nick’s innocent self clearly doesn’t like the whole situation because of his light heart. This also brings up the feminist theory. Because of Myrtle being a woman, she wasn’t treated write as women were considered not to be the same level as men.
If this was not the case and Myrtle was not locked up, she would have survived suck incident. Therefore, this shows how innocent the protagonist is when it comes to a serious incident. After the death of the protagonist’s brother in the catcher in the Rye, he leaves his left-handed baseball mitt for the protagonist. “My brother Allie had this left-handed fielder’s mitt.
He was left-handed.” (Salinger 21). The brother’s mitt is a major symbol which is a big part of Holden’s life. As the mitt is a big part of Holden’s life, he keeps it hidden and away from everyone else.
This symbolizes Holden’s expressions and his personality. He always keeps it hidden from others. Later, Holden’s talks about the poetry written on the mitts. Which is an inspiration for him. The poetry can also influence Holden’s personality as he is very reliable to it. Therefore, the death of Holden’s brother makes him very dependent on his brother’s mitt this makes it huge part of Holden’s life. Without the death of his brother, the mitt would not have any meaning to him.
Nick finds out about Gatsby’s past in the military after his death. This changes the way he judges his friend. “Look here this isn’t Mr.
Gatsby. Mr. Gatsby’s dead… ‘A young major just out of the army and covered over with medals he got in the war'” (93-96). Midway through the novel Nick finds out Gatsby’s illegal business. Although he is disappointed in him, he still wants to investigate more which leads him to finding out the truth about Gatsby after his death. Gatsby’s death symbolizes the innocence of him and how the illegal business was not what Gatsby liked to do.
People who do not know the past of Gatsby think that he was a bad person because of his present life but when Nick finds out his friend, Gatsby, was nothing but a soldier, this makes a significant impact on him which leads him to naming the novel, The great Gatsby. Therefore, death of Gatsby creates a major impact on Nick for judging Gatsby’s character. In conclusion, the protagonist’s innocence is shown when a character they know dies and the protagonists gain knowledge of the reality when a close one to them passes away. Therefore, the death of the 2 characters in each novel have some sort of affect on the protagonist himself which causes some changes in them. After all, losing someone you know about will have some sort of impact in your life.