cher in the Rye, bySalinger, the protagonists of both novels Tess and Holden, are portrayed asbeing the typical teenager of their time, who both choose to make rashdecisions based upon their naivety. Tess and Holden are both inexperiencedin the world and they are forced to choose their own path to follow. Tessand Holden are trapped by society’s class system, their struggles withmoney, and their own inexperience and naivety, which lead them to makedisastrous choices that inevitably doom them to a tragic end.Tess and Holden are both caught in society’s class system, and becausethey are confused about what is expected of them from society they makechoices based upon their own beliefs.
Tess felt inferior to Angel becausehis family was financially stable, while her family was not. Tess choosesto tell Angel about Alec seducing her, and when Angel takes the news poorlyshe tells him “I will obey you like your wretched slave, even if it is tolie down and die” (Hardy 226). Because Tess feels socially inferior, sheis willing to act as a slave.
Angel, however, leaves because he sees Tessas something too low for him. This abandonment is the key to Tess’downfall. Holden is at the opposite end of the ladder, he has wealth, andbecause of his money he feels as though he is better than other people,while Tess feels as if she is lower than other people.
While Holden is inthe cab he makes the choice by of asking Horwitz “you ever pass by thelagoon in Central Park? Down by the Central Park South?” (Salinger 81).Holden is asking the cab driver, Horwitz a question that he knows will nothave an answer to.When Horwitz does not respond, Holden has a feeling of superiority over himbecause Holden perceives Horwitz as a mere cabbie who doesn’t compare tohimself and his social class. Tess and Holden are opposite ends, and inthis instance they approach similar situations completely differentlybecause of where they stand in society.
Society and the class divisions oftheir time influence them both. Tess makes the choice of telling Angel ofher previous sexual relation and because of it Angel tragically leaves her,and Holden makes the choice of mocking those who he feels to be sociallyinferior, eventually ends up tragically alone and institutionalized.Tess was a beautiful English peasant whose sole purpose in life wasto marry a wealthy man so that her family would become financially stable,while Holden’s family already had wealth, but he felt as though money madepeople phony. Tess reluctantly made the tragic choice of marrying Alec forhis money and because he told her that Angel was never going to return.After Angel returns from Brazil, he immediately goes to see Tess andnoticesHer neck rose out of a frill of down, and her well-rememberedcableof dark-brown hair was partially coiled up in a mass at the backof her head and partly hanging on her shoulder-the evidentresult of haste. (Hardy 371)Tess is a different person from when Angel last saw her, and now Tess hasbecome a gold digger who only married Alec for his money. Tess is nolonger happy and the arrival of Angel only reminds Tess of the happinessshe is missing. Tess and Holden are similar to one another in that theyboth realize that money doesn’t bring them happiness, and they both can behappy without having wealth.
Even though Holden doesn’t believe in God, he willingly gave two nuns tendollars for their collection, but then he realizedAfter they left, I started getting sorry that I’d only giventhem ten bucks for their collection. But the thing was, I’d madethat date to go to a matinee with old Sally Hayes, and I neededto keep some dough for the tickets and stuff. I was sorryanyway, though. Goddamn money. It always ends up making you blueas hell (Salinger 113).Holden says “Goddamn money. It always ends up making you blue as hell”shows that he really doesn’t like to have money because it makes him moreupset than joyful.
Tess and Holden have similar beliefs in that moneyisn’t everything. Tess makes the disastrous choice of marrying Alec, whicheventually leads to the tragic end of both their lives, and Holden makesthe choice of