The Other, Quest of Identity and American Dream in The Catcher in the Rye and Teacher Man

Document Type : Original Article


MA student, School of Foreign Studies, University of Science and Technology Beijing


Different from female biographers who emphasize gender and class, The Catcher in the Rye, the typical representative works of bildungsroman, and Teacher Man, a Pulitzer Award winner’s reflection of his life full of conflicts of Irish and American cultures, focus more on the exploration of nationality and identity in the form of autobiography, presenting the journey of the quest of identity and realization of the American dream of the Other in contemporary American society. Holden Caulfield, the protagonist in Catcher, has dual inner world, with one is rebellious and depraved, the other one is kind and innocent, influenced by the joint action of multiple factors such as the family, the society, the history background, religion and ideology. It reveals the spiritual emptiness while the United States was economically prosperous in the 1950s. Setting the narrative background in America, Ireland and Britain, Teacher Man tells the story of Frank McCourt, growing from an Irish-American who was uprooted and marginalized to "The Best Teacher in The United States", the highest honor in the American educational circles, and explores the protagonist's construction process of self-identity and the pursuit, frustration and success of the American dream. By presenting the self-exploration of two generations, Salinger and McCourt jointly consider the importance of family, psychological development, social and historical factors in personal growth, thus point the way for the confused.