Both Ellis and Salinger use first person narratives. The Catcher in the Rye was set in the late 1940s as opposed to American Psycho which is set in the late 1980s. These different contexts provide very different lifestyles and social pressures for both protagonist’s however, both writers focus on the effects of materialism and prodigality and the psychological problems that are a consequence of such behaviour. Salinger explores social disaffection and how this affects Holden, as opposed to Ellis who explores American consumerism and how this affects Patrick Bateman. Both novels expose the fallacy of the American dream. In The Catcher in the Rye Holden Caulfield is seen to be the embodiment of loneliness and madness through various techniques in which the protagonist being Holden, explains them in his thoughts. Salinger uses a stream of consciousness of Holden’s character and it is a bildungsroman novel. Holden is a foreshadowing tool in a time which conformity was ever apparent and the world, as Holden saw was only interested in materialistic values. There was increasing pressures to conform as is also shown in the 1955 American drama film ‘Rebel without A Cause’. This highlights how many people, including Holden felt that something had to change in the way society worked.
At the start of the novel readers can recognise that the style of writing is in a first person narrative and therefore we believe that J.D.Salinger’s writing is biased. In chapter three, a mere few pages into the novel about the life of Holden Caulfield we find out that our narrator is a terrific liar. “I'm the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life. If I'm on the way to the store to buy a magazine, even, and somebody asks me where I'm going, I'm liable to say I'm going to the opera.” This indicates that Holden is extremely unreliable as a narrator and leads readers to believe whether they can fully trust his judgement of himself, let alone others as he so frequently does. Also readers may ask why? Why is Holden a consistent liar for no apparent reason? Perhaps it is because he is confused about everything. He feels that he cannot live up to expectations governed by society and therefore he must lie about who he truly is. American Psycho is also told in first person narration and it is set in late 1980’s and can also be seen as unreliable. This is due to the narrator, Patrick Bateman’s “depersonalization” and his tendency to live a life of repetitive self-indulgence. The constant running theme is irreverent humour that plays on the inability of humans when doing certain things.
However, readers recognise that Patrick feels invisible “…There is an idea of a Patrick Bateman… but there is no real me, only an entity, something illusionary… I am simply not there.” The fact that Bateman calls himself an entity suggests that although he is a real being with existence, he has no real substance and he merely seems to exist. This is emphasised when he further calls himself illusionary, giving the impression the he is misleading and deceptive. Furthermore readers can recognise that they will never truly know the real Patrick Bateman and his reasoning behind his actions Readers can recognise this to insinuate that Patrick is ultimately lonely as he says that no one will ever know who the real him is.
In The Catcher in the Rye, J.D.Salinger explores Holden’s identity and allows readers to analyse it. For example, the first mentioning of The Catcher in the Rye is when Holden hears a little kid singing “If a body catch a body coming through the rye.” This episode seems to cheer Holden’s mood, however the true meaning of the song is not as it seems and so showing how naïve Holden is. In fact, the song is actually a poem by Robert Burns and the true meaning is not as readers are lead to believe, the poem can be