A Journey Towards Maturity And Identity Essay
Life itself is a journey full of bonding and experiences which lead to wisdom and
understanding. Without maturity one may never have these life teaching experiences. This
leads to an empty shell of a person never truly feeling passion, love or peace. In the
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Huck Finn is trying to find purpose and
identity through his moral battle with society, while Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the
Rye by J.D.
Salinger is an adolescent struggling to mature into manhood. In comparison
they are both on a journey towards maturity and identity. Holden and Huck are similar in
their threshold crossing, road of trials, and flee and return(Crispell 43).
The threshold crossing is the place or the person that the character crosses over or
through into the zone unknown, being the place where journey into self discovery
begins(Crispell 43). Many times the call to their adventure includes going by desire,
chance, abduction, or by being lured by an outside force. In the Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn, Huck is forced with the dilemma of whether to stay with his father and
continue to be abused or to leave.
Huck leaves because he desires to begin his journey. He
also realizes that he will be forced to choose between his morals and his conscience, and will
have to decide which of these morals to hold true(Rubenstein 23). Huck also witnesses a
symbolic death. He sets up his fathers cabin to look like he was brutally murdered. He
emerges from this as a runaway child and now must be careful of what he does so that he
does not get caught. He tells people false aliases for himself so that no one knows his true
Every time Huck does this, he is symbolically dying and reemerging a more
experienced person. At this point, Huck is now on his way to begin his journey into self
discovery. Just like Huck, Holden also crosses over into the zone unknown, but starts his
journey in a different way.
Holden Caulfield is a very privileged kid. Throughout his life, his parents were able
to send him to wealthy private schools hoping he would mature and begin to learn more
about his own self. His call to adventure comes because he is mentally torn between
experience and innocence.
It would seem to him that an outside force is luring him to do
something, but in actuality he is beginning his journey because of his desire. It is evident
that Holden cares nothing about school and about his own education. He wants to leave so
he can begin the journey of self discovery and escape the phoniness that surrounds
him(Gordon 2043). Holden’s symbolic death is very similar to Huck’s. Holden also uses
fake names, but he symbolically dies through fainting, changing the position of his red
hunting hat, and his association with bathrooms. The bathroom motif, or the reoccurring
appearance of the bathroom, symbolizes death for Holden because he enters bathrooms
with a neurotic and pragmatic frame of mind and exits with a cleared mind.
death is what gets Holden and Huck onto their journeys and into the road of trials, where
they experience many things that will change them forever.
The road of trials is where most of the characters journey takes place(Crispell 43).
It is on the road of trials that the character begins to experience different obstacles that will
change his life forever. For Huck Finn, his learning adventure takes place on the
Mississippi River. Huck finds freedom on the river and it is here that he truly learns about
himself. However, he still faces problems with moral decisions of right and wrong and
helping a runaway slave to achieve freedom.
Huck’s traveling companion is Jim. As anti-
society that Huck is, you would think that he would have no qualms about helping Jim.
However Huck has to have feelings that slavery is correct so we can see the ignorance of
racial bigotry. Huck and Jim’s journey begins as Huck fights within himself about turning
Jim over to the authorities, but he decides not to. This is a monumental decision because it
shows that Huck has decided to turn his back on everything home stands for, and that
his true moral identity is slowly shining through. Even though Huck has made his decision
about Jim, early in the voyage we see Huck’s attitude change towards .