Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Amy Cummins

Second Advisor

Dr. Marisa Palacios Knox

Third Advisor

Dr. David Bowles


J.D. Salinger’s 1951 novel The Catcher in the Rye shows the life of seventeen-year-old Holden Caulfield and the aftermath of his expulsion from Pencey Prep. Jay Asher’s 2007 book Thirteen Reasons Why centers on seventeen-year-old Clay Jensen’s aftermath of his friend Hannah Baker’s death. Although both novels are written, published, and set decades apart, both have more in common than originally thought. Both books were originally heavily challenged or banned upon their initial release. Although they were challenged due to different reasons, both are better understood after analyzing mental health in the books. The books deal with unawareness of mental health, not feeling heard, and the possibility of the Werther Effect. Both Holden and Hannah attempt to reach out to people in different manners. Holden repeatedly talks to different types of people in hopes of being reassured about the future. As well, Hannah reaches out to her school’s guidance counselor.


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