Introspection in A Complicated Kindness and The Catcher in the Rye

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Miriam Toews’ A Complicated Kindness and J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye are two novels in which characters reflect on their attitudes and experiences as a source of emotional growth and maturity. Salinger and Toews show the importance of this reflection through the evolution of their characters’ – Holden Caulfield and Nomi Nickel – similar attitudes towards their schools, communities, and lives. Though Nomi and Holden both do poorly in school for various reasons, Nomi overcomes her obstacles by working to identify the source of them. Both characters also resent their communities because of the hypocrisy found within them. However, Nomi manages to find good within the East Village through self-reflection, while Holden completely …show more content…
Though Nomi escapes these negative feelings using drugs and her imagination, she expresses to her guidance counsellor that she feels a need to change her views on the educational system and learn to love it. The novel’s convoluted plotline does not show step-by-step, how Nomi goes about changing her attitudes. However, Nomi engaging her environment in deeper thought is evidenced in her coming to realize that she does poorly in school because she is: “already anticipating failure.”(Toews 2) With this new insight, Nomi writes her story as an assignment for submission to Mr. Quiring as an attempt to gain his approval and achieve academic success.
A disparate situation is presented to readers in The Catcher in the Rye. Early in the novel, Holden expresses the reason for his difficulties in school as his being: “always surrounded by phonies.”(Salinger 13) Holden is correct; he is completely incapable of relating to his peers. However he takes no time to consider potential solutions to his problem. During his conversation with Mr. Spencer, Holden communicates that he deals with his troubles by simply quitting; putting minimal effort into academics and socialization. Since Holden never addresses his emotions directly, he fails to realize

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