Catcher in the Rye: Maturing Adolescent in the 1950's

             Salinger describes many of the events, which occurred in his life as a maturing adolescent in the 1950's. The main character, Holden Caufield, is an extremely complex character. His obsession with sex and money, demonstrates the mindset that existed during the 50's. The new consumer culture encouraged people to be materialistic. Although Holden is not a materialist, he does spend money without thinking. It does not seem important to him that he has designer clothes or the most expensive cars; however, he does make it seem necessary to disburse his earnings. During the 1950's, people were so caught up in the consumer culture that there was no importance in what they purchased, as long as they continued to do so. Holden is more than a cynical 1950's rich kid at an impersonal and pressure-filled boarding school. The flaws of life fester inside of him and therefore he tries to shield himself from them. By doing so, however, he ignores the positive qualities of his life. Holden is an innocent adolescent desperately searching for a way to connect with the world that will not cause him pain. .

             Holden also represents the lives of teen-agers during the 1950's as unsupervised, different and distinctive. His casual attitude about his grades and his willingness to roam the streets of New York without a set itenarary show how the lives of teenagers during the 50's had dramatically changed. Although people were conforming to a certain 'perfect identity', during the 50's, many teenagers were beginning to rebel against their previous, straightedge stereotype and form their own way of thinking. Holden's obsession with sex also represents a teen-age way of thinking in the 1950's. The old fashioned social rules of America forced the younger generation to repress it sexuality. This factor plays an important role in Holden's story. .

             All in all, Holden is just a normal, screwed up kid. In my opinion, we all have our own problems, with which we deal with everyday, and Holden is no different.

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