Archetypes were first described by Carl Young because he saw similarities between pieces of literature. There are several archetypes in most stories and many stories may have some of the same archetypes. This is evidently true in the movie Cool Hand Luke and also in the book “The Catcher in the Rye”. Luke, in Cool Hand Luke, and Holden, in The Catcher in the Rye, exhibit similar archetypal features such as the Christ-Figure, the Anti-hero and their experience of the road of trails.
Luke and Holden can both be compared to the Archetype “Christ-Figure” because of their characteristics. First of all, neither Luke nor Holden had a strong father figure in their life. The audience learns that Luke’s father left when he was very young, during his interaction with his mother. Holden, on the other hand did not have a good relationship with his father because his father was “a big-shot phony” who was only disappointed with his son because he kept flunking out of school. Both Holden and Luke had some type of follower or disciple. Holden’s “follower”, even if he didn’t realize it, was Phoebe. Phoebe found a friend in Holden and always wanted to emulate him. The perfect example of Phoebe attempting to follow Holden was when Holden attempted to run away and Phoebe tried her best to go with him.
She had her suitcase packed and ready to go when she met up with him for what he thought was saying goodbye. Luke also had followers of his own. Luke’s followers consisted of the prisoners, including Dragline. Luke habitually tries to run away from prison and is always caught. Luke teaches the prisoners to keep fighting even when you know you have lost the fight. The prisoners use this motto when they are working on the side of the road and they decide to increase their pace so that they will get done faster. Also, at the end of the movie, Dragline throws a punch at one of the officers after they have both been captured. This symbolizes the fact that Dragline has learned to stand up to authority even though he has nothing. Even though Holden and Luke are both Christ-figures, it does not mean that they are both heroes.
The truth is that Luke and Holden both have characteristics that are similar to the Anti-hero. Nobody will say that Luke and Holden are people with angelic qualities. Obviously, Luke is in prison and Holden has been kicked out of school. On the other hand, they are not the villains either. They are not the people who are trying to make the world a harsh place, they simply do not follow the rules that society has put into place. Luke constantly is in a battle against authority. Luke is always the person who will keep coming back for more even when he can’t take anymore. An example of this would be his fight on Saturday with Dragline. Even after he had physically lost the fight, he never stopped getting back up. Holden also didn’t like to obey authority.
He never put effort into his classes so that he could pass. This was him making the point that he was in control of his own life and nothing could stop him. Holden also stood up to society as a whole. He could not stand “phonies” and was always trying to go against them. As Holden was leaving Pencey, he shouted “sleep tight, ya morons” down the hall where everyone was sleeping (Salinger 52). This symbolically represents how he challenges the society that he lives in. He is challenging the society that tells him to succeed at an expensive school, get a good job, buy a nice house and drive a nice car because he thinks that this lifestyle is “phoney”. The final archetype feature that both Luke and Holden embody is the road of trials that they are faced with. After Luke arrives at prison, he is troubled by his encounter with Dragline.
At first, the characters do not like each other at all but towards the end, they start to form a bond of friendship. Another trial that Luke is faced with is the death of his mother. Her death takes a toll on Luke and he is unfairly put in the box because they think that he might try to commit an act of defiance. Shortly after he is released from the box, Luke tries to run away three times, but is caught every time. Luke’s road of trials shapes him into a different person and he learns the most during this period of time. Holden also faces a road of trials. After Holden ran away from Pencey he went on a journey and though his trials he was able to learn about himself and the world around him. One of his trials was his encounter with Maurice.
Maurice came after him after he didn’t pay fully for the prostitute that he ordered. Maurice physically abused Holden and delivered a hard blow to the stomach. Another trial that Holden faced was his short-lived stay with Mr. Antolini. Mr. Antolini was someone that Holden looked up to and was appreciative when he let Holden stay at his house. But during the middle of the night, Holden woke up to find him just sitting there and rubbing his head. Holden got very creeped out and left as soon as he could.
Both of the protagonists from Catcher in the Rye and Cool Hand Luke encounter extremely different journeys. But, through analyzing their archetypes, the audience is able to see how they are also very similar characters. Luke and Holden are similar in characteristics because they both have qualities of the Christ-figure, the anti-hero and they both experience the road of trials on their journey.