Comparative Essay Good Copy Word

Submitted By mmsj
Words: 1870
Pages: 8

The Merriam-Webster dictionary refers to isolation as “the state of being in a place or situation that is separate from others” (Merriam-Webster, Definition of Isolation). Isolation is a common theme in not only the daily lives of multitudes of people, but it is also a common theme in literature. The idea of being alone can be perceived as poetic and calming in some situations, yet in other occurrences it can result in temperamental and physical complications that are unwelcome and unpleasant. Isolation is a common feeling amongst those who are struggling with changes in their lives, or with those who just are not content with living a simple life. Holden Caulfied from the novel The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger and Walter Mitty from the short story The Secret Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber are similar in their ways of isolating themselves from others and the world around them. Holden Caulfield and Walter Mitty isolate themselves by viewing themselves as superior amongst their assumedly inferior peers, by escaping reality whenever possible, and by not maintaining healthy relationships with others.

Firstly, Holden Caulfield and Walter Mitty both perceive themselves as great, and their peers as less than them. Holden is caught many times where he sees his faults as postive attributes toward his character. When Holden is on the train back to his hometown after he is kicked out of Pencey Prep, he sees a peer’s mother and decides to over exaggerate about how her son is doing in school. He claims here: “I am the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life” (Salinger, 16). Holden expresses his faults in a positive manner, which amplifies the fact that Holden sees himself as superior to everyone around him. Holden refers to his peers as “phonies”. When he refers back to his former school Elkton Hills, he expresses his hatred for his old principal since he degraded the students and parents who were not wealthy. One of the biggest reasons I left Elkton Hills was because I was surrounded by phonies. That's all. They were coming in the goddam window. For instance, they had this headmaster, Mr. Haas, that was the phoniest bastard I ever met in my life. Ten times worse than old Thurmer. On Sundays, for instance, old Haas went around shaking hands with everybody's parents when they drove up to school. He'd be charming as hell and all. Except if some boy had little old funny-looking parents. You should've seen the way he did with my roommate's parents. I mean if a boy's mother was sort of fat or corny-looking or something, and if somebody's father was one of those guys that wear those suits with very big shoulders and corny black-and-white shoes, then old Haas would just shake hands with them and give them a phony smile and then he'd go talk, for maybe a half an hour, with somebody else's parents. I can't stand that stuff. It drives me crazy. It makes me so depressed I go crazy. I hated that goddam Elkton Hills. (13-14)
Holden presumes that most people (parents, teachers and peers alike) are phonies. He sees the negative personality traits of people before the positive ones. Similar to Holden, Water Mitty daydreams , imagining himself as great and perceiving everyone else as “cocky”. Throughout the entire short story, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Walter imagines such outrageous and unrealistic scenarios of him doing great things he only wishes he could be capable of. When he plays out his dying sequence, he imagines himself getting shot by a firing squad in a dramatic manner:

“[Walter Mitty] took one last drag on his cigarette and snapped it away. Then, with that faint, fleeting smile playing about his lips, he faced the firing squad; erect and motionless, proud and disdainful, Walter Mitty the Undefeated, inscrutable to the last.” (93)
By Walter Mitty envisioning himself as such a hero doing magnificent things, it boosts his confidence immensely. On the other hand, Mitty, rather than seeing others as “phony” he