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Word Count: 2,213
Society is often the curator of ideals beliefs and expectations among a vast number of unquestioning conformist individuals It dictates a strict set of guidelines of which no one is to venture from or they risk being labeled as social outcasts These unwritten social laws affect every single individual and often conflict with ones own beliefs particularly on the matter of sex and sex-role stereotyping Such a criticism is evident in the case of JD Salingers The Catcher in the Rye and Sylvia Plaths The Ball Jar Both of the protagonists in these narratives represent a fundamental struggle by adolescents to comply with their respective gender roles In the case of Holden Caulfield the narrator of The Catcher in the Rye his journey into adulthood requires him to accept his role in society as a typical man - a domineering manipulative force In Holdens view this means he must shed himself of all innocence and embrace his sexuality This closely parallels the views of the protagonist Esther Greenwood in The Bell Jar as she rejects the idealized image of the traditional female and often compares herself to a bell in a bell jar where she is suffocated by societal pressures and she herself is weak and voiceless Both characters portray these emotions through their anti-establishment and rebellious nature leaving them to face the consequences of refusing societys order in a psychiatric institution because of their refusal to conform to their respective gender stereotypes Both narrators express their rebellions to their gender stereotypes through the most obvious means possible- sex If you want to know the truth Im a virgin I really am Ive had quite a few opportunities to lose my virginity and all but Ive never got around to it yet Salinger 92 Holden reveals his sexual innocence by blurting out that hes a virgin during his description of his encounter with Sunny the prostitute Whereas the typical male as Holden describes would see
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