Date of Award


Degree Type




First Advisor

Sonstegard, Adam

Subject Headings

Caulfield, Holden (Fictitious character), Finn, Huckleberry (Fictitious character), Bildungsromans -- History and criticism, Quests (Expeditions) in literature -- Symbolism, Heroes in literature -- History and criticism, Literature


The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Catcher in the Rye are both quest narratives in which the youthful protagonist begins his story trapped within a paradigm that oppresses him and -in order to escape- dies a symbolic death, descending to the underworld to learn a sacred truth that will be revealed at novel's end. The structure and symbolism are quite similar and follow the archetypal hero's journey, which I closely examine. In my thesis, I seek to prove that by descending to the "hell" of the Antebellum South and the conformist/materialistic world of post-war America, both Huck and Holden ultimately help to exorcise the demons of their respective war-torn societies. In my research, I discovered that most critics had not taken this comprehensive "spiritual" approach in analyzing Huck and Holden's quest, and I concluded that their journey through the underworld, and the sacred knowledge that they discovered there, helped in a small way change America herself