There are some direct references to Salinger’s cult novel in Steven Chbosky’s work, making the storylines similar in some way. For example, like Holden, Charlie lost a loved one in childhood, for whom he had special feelings: on the eve of his birthday, his mother’s sister, Helen, died. Holden also lost a family member: while still a child, his younger brother Allie, whom Caulfield loved very much, died. The suicides of their peers were also a big shock for the heroes: Charlie’s best friend Michael took his own life, Holden also witnessed the suicide of his classmate James Castle, who jumped out of the window, not wanting to take his words back, despite the threats of a school bully.
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Both adolescents are initially in the same situation: they are alone and on the verge of a new life. Holden once again left the school, and he does not know where his parents will send him now. Charlie has just moved to high school and does not know what awaits him in the new environment. The characters are sensitive, have a deep inner world, and have a keen sense of justice. Both Charlie and Holden are close to the reader due to everyday vocabulary and first-person narration. In the future, we notice only differences in the heroes’ behavior, attitudes towards the world and society; differences are also manifested in style. Charlie, who wants to become a writer, improves his language. The skills that he acquires with each new book he read, a newly written composition are manifested in his letters: the structure of sentences changes, metaphors (“We were infinite”), epithets (“Colorful trees” ), comparisons (“I would feel like I was in a submarine”) appear.
The characters of both novels, telling their story to the reader, subject themselves to introspection, reveal their feelings, share their thoughts and ideas. The psychological conflict present in both Salinger’s and Chbosky’s novels, thanks to this introspection, is fully revealed. Still, Caulfield never successfully resolves this conflict, whereas Charlie copes with his problems and moves on. Charlie is not a complete copy of Caulfield. The author managed to endow his character with personality, thanks to which the quiet man attracts millions of readers worldwide.
Another book the author makes references to is On the Road by Kerouac. Indeed, the main character has a certain dreaminess and interest in the world and the heroes of On the Road. He is trying to find his path in life, to understand how to act correctly and move towards the future. Undoubtedly, there is no clear metaphor for road and travel. However, the search for freedom and novelty are important traits for Charlie. Overall, this reflects the general nature of adolescents in recent decades. They all strive to understand what to aim at in life and to develop their own way of living.
Another important work that influenced Charlie is To Kill a Mockingbird. Its characters are distinguished by justice and vitality. If Charlie cannot be as energetic, he still tries to maintain fairness in the world around him. One of his core values is kindness, which is why he is one of those who can change the world for the better. In many ways, the books he reads made him that way.