All novels contain common elements and qualities. In most cases the plot, conflict, and a narrative voice forms the style of writing. Frequently the incidents told are direct experiences from the narrator himself. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger and Huckleberry Finn by Samuel Clemens employ these characteristics, particularly using a constructive voice, symbolism, and a complex connected sequence of events, dealing with human experiences.
There are many instances in The Catcher in the Rye which deal with such characteristics. The novel is told in first person through the eyes of the narrator, Holden. He recalls the events as a series of flashbacks placing the setting of the story in his mind. Next, there is the repeated use of symbolism throughout the novel. Three major symbols were the ducks, the Museum of Natural History, and Jane Gallagher. While Holden is wandering around New York City, he asks many people about what happens to the ducks in the pond when it freezes. In actuality, the ducks represent Holden wondering about himself. Jane Gallagher and the Museum of Natural History, both represent the theme of the past in two different aspects. Jane Gallagher was an old friend of the past, and he mentions calling her repeatedly throughout the story. She is a significant part of his past that he misses a lot, which makes him want to reminisce those times once again. The Museum of Natural History, on the other hand, makes Holden realize he will never be the same as he used to be, and this changes his mind on wanting to return to the past. All of these hidden messages represent Holden, revealing the way he thinks and acts. Throughout the novel there’s continuance of events that deal with human experiences. The novel is based on the story of his nervous breakdown lead by being expelled from Pencey Prep, increasing feelings of loneliness and desperation brought on by the insincerity and ugliness of the adult world, and the tormenting memories of the death of his younger brother Allie.
Huckleberry Finn was also written in first person but through the eyes of the Huck Finn. Huck tells about a series of adventures, making many observations on human nature and the South as he does. The use of symbolism is again portrayed throughout this novel. It is often said that the story of Huck Finn is about Mark Twain himself. Twain’s love for traveling and the Mississippi River are reflected in the novel through the adventures told. Huckleberry Finn was based on a series of consecutive events, which put together the novel. Huck’s adventures begin when he travels down the river on a canoe he found to Jackson’s Island. There he meets up with a runaway slave Jim, whom he knew previously, and they begin their travels along the Mississippi together. From there on the non-stop action begins, from meeting convicts who turn in Jim for being a runaway slave, to the escape of Jim by Huck and Tom Sawyer, at the end of the novel.
Furthermore, all classic novels display their own qualities and characteristics. A classic novel doesn’t have only one theme but are about many things and have several ideas. The Catcher in the Rye may describe the life about a disturbed teenager who can’t cope with people, with school, or with everyday problems that people his age must face. He avoids reality by living a fantasy life, which leads him to his downfall. Another theme portrayed may be that of a teenager who refuses to grow up. He has an obsession on childhood, which are why he keeps speaking about the admiration of his younger sister, and his idealization of his dead younger brother. The novel can also be seen as the story of a boy who struggles to remain faithful to what he sees as the truth. Huckleberry Finn like all classic novels also has more than one theme. Huck Finn is an adventure book about the escapades of a boy who has run away from home. The main character is trustworthy, honest and funny, and he shows us a young boy’s view of the interesting characters he meets during his trip. Others would say the story is about growing up. Huck not only runs away from his father, he also takes on the task of making it on his own. But before entering the world of adulthood, he must uphold certain responsibilities.
Classic novels differ from that of typical novels in that they regularly contain more than one theme. They commonly contain a constructive voice, symbolism, and a complex connected sequence of events, dealing with human experiences, which are elements and qualities in all novels.