This article by Mackenzie Clevenger received an Honorable Mention in the Hare & Bell 2022 Writing Contest.


Varied grieving processes can be observed in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. The Road, a 2006 post-apocalyptic novel that follows a man and a boy as they try to survive in a world overrun by death and danger, exhibits the boy’s path to maturation in the wake of his mother’s death. Holden Caulfield, the protagonist from the 1951 classic The Catcher in the Rye, on the other hand, exhibits a far more violent and pessimistic coping process as he contemplates the death of his little brother during an extended stroll around New York City. Both the boy and Holden experience the death of a family member during their childhood and face the ultimate challenge of coping with their loss and moving forward. However, while the boy’s thoughtful and empathetic outlook on life allows him to mature and move past his mother’s tragic death, Holden’s hypocritical nature and cynical world view chain him to both immaturity and the painful memory of his brother.