Posted: October 17th, 2013
The Pleasure of My Company Contrasted To Catcher in the Rye
One may not realize that a person is living in isolation especially if they are seen around people. It is quite a wonder that one can be quite alienated from normal life or people while still living around them. More so, it is surprising how a person could just choose to live indoors because of his phobia and be happy enjoying his own company. In the two works of literature, The Pleasure of my Company by Steve Martin and The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger, this theme has been expressed in different ways. While Martin in his book, The Pleasure of My Company expresses the theme of isolation by develops a protagonist who is confined from the normal social life like other people by his fears, Salinger develops such a character in his short story, The Catcher in the Rye, who is isolated from a normal life by his failures. The two pieces of literature are quite contrasting in their thematic development, setting, style, characters and story.
Although the setting of the two works are in the same country, The Catcher in the Rye does not give one specific setting, but several places are described as the protagonist describes them while The Pleasure of my Company describes one setting. The two settings take place in different cities and in different centuries. The Pleasure of my Company takes place in the early 21st century, in Santa Monica (Allreaders.com n.d.), while The catcher in the Rye takes place in several cities, which the protagonist describes, starting with Pennsylvania where he was schooling to New York where he spent several days. The play is set in the mid 20th century, in 1950s.
While in that Pleasure of My Company the protagonist is located in one place, the Catcher in the Rye’s protagonist is seen in different places. In Pleasure of my Company, the protagonist hardly leaves his apartment to go outside, loves doing indoor chores such as ironing pillows flat, because of his fear of the outside, and lacks the chance for interaction. On the other hand, the protagonist in The Catcher in the Rye is not in door, goes out to social places such as bars and hotels, and is not afraid of the surrounding. Much of the setting is not in one apartment but several places, but still lacks friends.
The protagonists have different ways of dealing with their alienation where the protagonist in The Pleasure of my Company, Daniel, chooses to remain indoors while Holden in the Catcher in the Rye engages in careless activities. Daniel chooses to stay away from his obsessive fears, and feels quite okay with it and passes time doing indoor activities. He feels safer and hardly goes out or even tries to cross the road (reviewsofbooks.com). On the other hand, Holden goes out to deal with his alienation by seeking to have sex with girls in the bar after he decides to quit school where he cannot stand those around his friends. He seeks company from girls although he does not know how to interact with them, and is unhappy about his life.
While both works show both protagonists undergoing rehabilitation or therapy, the settings under which these therapies are carried out are quite different. Daniel receives his therapy at his apartment where he is visited by a therapist, Clarissa twice a week and a pharmacist. He does not have to leave the company of his apartment (Jays, 2003). Daniel invites the right people to help him from his own apartment. On the other hand, as Holden narrates his story, he does not give a clear location of where he is, but he does make it clear that he is in a mental hospital undergoing treatment (sparknotes.com, 2011).
The two works have used first person voice, but there are several differences in their style of writing and tone used as well as character development. The two authors have used the first person style in their work but there is a difference in how it is used when it comes to description of the scenery and the characters of the major characters in the stories. Martin uses the internal voice of the protagonist to illustrate what is happening to the characters involved, where the reader sees everything through the mind of the protagonist Daniel. Unlike Martin, Salinger uses the protagonist as the narrator of the story, where the protagonist is telling the story to another person, whom in this case is the reader. It sounds like the reader is listening to Holden give his story.
There is also a difference in the narration of the story in terms of tone used to develop the story. Martin uses humor to develop the story where the protagonist is shown as aware of his condition, “He has an awareness of the silliness of his neuroses, but is unable to overcome them despite of his knowledge of their lack of foundation,” (Cise, 2011). He does comic things such as ironing pillows flat, which he says he could not have learnt had he not spent much of his time in the apartment. On to the contrary, Salinger develops his story through a serious tone through the experiences that Holden goes through in his life from when we see him leave the school for New York and the whole story is developed with a serious tone and rather sadistic.
The protagonists in the stories are both alienated by personal issues, but have many differences where one is obsessed with fears while the other is not happy about the world itself and the thought of being an adult. The difference comes from the fact that one is isolated from people but wishes to have people around but cannot since he is always indoors. The other person is among people, but still, lives an isolated life.
The two protagonists are alienated from the normal social interaction by different personal matters and issues. Daniel lives in the confinement of his apartment because of his personal phobias such as crossing over a curb to go over the other side of the road. Holden on the other hand cannot come to terms with his own person and the world of adulthood that makes him quite unhappy and view the world of adulthood as cruel and chooses not to engage in friendships with people of his age, ending up alienated. The two protagonists are from different age groups. Daniel just stays at home and has an apartment but is jobless suggesting that he is past schooling and probably above 20 years. Holden on the other hand is just a high school student at the age of 17, which is among the ages that maturity enters hence a lot of differences are noted.
Between the two protagonists, one is aware of his condition, while one just thinks there is nothing wrong except the people around him are all wrong. Daniel is aware of his conditions and describes them when he talks about his silliness, which he does not know its foundation. Daniel is alienated from social life, which he seeks, by his fears. Holden on the other hand is unhappy about being an adult and thinks adults are phonies. Moreover, he feels that not everybody else is okay, making him quite unhappy in his life and ends up in alienation (shmoop.com). Holden is alienated from ordinary life by lack of acceptance to adulthood.
The two protagonists have very different ways of dealing with the problems in their lives. Considering they are of different ages as well as different causes to their problems. Daniel, aware of his problem, chooses the right method of going through therapy where he is given visits by a therapist (Martin, 23). Holden is not aware of his problems and ends up trying to relieve off his problems by drinking and engaging prostitutes though at most times nothing happens when he is around a girl (Tookey, 45).
The result of the efforts of the protagonists in dealing with their problems is quite different considering the different means used to deal with their problems by each of them. Daniel manages to make little progress in his fears through the help of his therapist, her son and the father through engaging with people (Martin, 97). He realizes this is the key to solving his problem (Miller 2003). Holden engages in a careless life of drinking and engaging prostitutes that ends up putting him in a mental hospital for treatment (Salinger 178).
Martin and Salinger’s stories concern human alienation from usual social world, developing the theme in very different ways.
Concerning the theme of isolation in a man, the two stories have dealt with this theme in different ways where they describe two different characters from different times isolated from normal life by different personal issues.
Martin develops his theme through Daniel who is isolated from people by his fears while Salinger deals with the same theme through Holden who is not isolated from people, but is living an alienated life because of his attitude towards life (Banks n.d.). The two works of literature provide contrasting views concerning human isolation, where Martin portrays a person isolated from people, while Salinger presents a person living among people in alienation.
Allreaders.com. The Pleasure of My Company Steve Martin Book Review. allreaders.com, N.d. allreaders.com. November 8, 2011. http://www.allreaders.com/topics/info_21458.asp
Banks, Brian. The Cather in the Rye. sides.tmtm.com, n.d. Web. November 8, 2011. http://sides.tmtm.com/catcher.html
Cise, Michael. Book Review: The Pleasure of My Company. michaelvancise.com. June 14, 2011. Web. November 8, 2011. http://michaelvancise.com/index.php/stevemartinnovel
Jays, David. The Pleasure of My Company. guardian.co.uk, October 4, 201. Web. November 8, 2011. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2003/oct/04/featuresreviews.guardianreview24
Martin, Steve. The pleasure of my company: a novel. New York: Hyperion, 2003. Print.
Miller, Laura. “The Pleasure of My Company by Steve Martin. Salon.com, 28 Oct. 2003. Web. 4 Sept. 2011. <http://www.salom.com/2003/10/28/martin_10/singleton
Reviewsofbooks.com. The Pleasure of My Company by Steve Martin. reviewsofbooks.com, 2011. Web. November 8, 2011. http://www.reviewsofbooks.com/pleasure_of_my_company/
Salinger, J.D. The Catcher in the Rye. New York, NY: Penguin Books, Limited, 2010.Print
Shmoop.com. The Catcher in the Rye. shmoop.com, 2011. Web. November 8, 2011. http://www.shmoop.com/catcher-in-the-rye/
Shmoop.com. The Catcher in the Rye Summary: How It All Goes Down. shmoop.com, 2011. Web. November 8, 2011. http://www.shmoop.com/catcher-in-the-rye/summary.html
Sparknotes.com. The Catcher in the Rye Analysis. sparknotes.com , 2011. Web. November 8, 2011. http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/catcher/summary.html
Tookey, Nigel. The catcher in the rye, J.D. Salinger: notes. Longman, 2003. Print.
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