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CATCHER IN THE RYE. CONTEXT. First Edition Book Cover published in 1951. J.D. Salinger. Born in 1919, Manhattan to a rich family. He wrote short stories his first short story was published in 1940 He was drafted in 1942 and served 4 years in the army.

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j d salinger
J.D. Salinger
  • Born in 1919, Manhattan to a rich family.
  • He wrote short stories his first short story was published in 1940
  • He was drafted in 1942 and served 4 years in the army.
  • During this time he wrote constantly and published a number of short stories.

Similarities between Salinger and Holden Caulfied.

  • There are a number of similarities between Salinger and Holden Caufield.
  • Both attended prep. Schools and were members of the fencing team.
  • Both experienced the suicide and nervous breakdown of a fellow student.
1951 the publication of the novel
1951 the publication of the novel
  • The novel was an immediate success.
  • Reviews were mixed from strong approval to questions as to Salinger’s attitudes, the colloquial style, the focus on an adolescent boy and probably most important at the time whether it was fit for young readers.
  • Many high schools and colleges banned the novel from their reading lists

Salinger’s writing seemed to tap into the emotions of readers in an unprecedented way. Catcher in the Rye was frequently read as a tale of an individual’s alienation within a heartless world. Holden seemed to stand for young people everywhere, who felt themselves beset on all sides by pressures to grow up and live their lives according to the rules, to disengage from meaningful human connection, and to restrict their own personalities and conform to a bland cultural norm. Many readers saw Holden Caulfield as a symbol of pure, unfettered individuality in the face of cultural oppression.

the post war era
The Post-War Era
  • End of war rationing meant access to consumer items
  • Opportunities for employment for many (although women employed in wartime factories often exited the workforce)
  • Burgeoning consumer culture of “luxury for the masses”
post war cold war era
Post War/Cold WarEra
  • Symbols and signs of optimism, wealth, and vulgarity:

*the car (In the ’50s, 20% of GNP of U.S. went to purchasing vehicles)

* gaudy colors & chrome

* the supermarket (with an astounding selection of goods)

*home appliances (the “mod cons”)

* the suburbs

Levittown: considered first planned, mass- produced community in the suburbs; built 1947-1951 on Long Island

culture in the 1950 s
Culture in the 1950’s
  • A time of great conservatism and anti-communism in society.
  • Men who returned from war went to work and became the main breadwinner of the family.
  • Women were expected to remain at home caring for husband and children.

Most families had televisions, owned large American cars

  • Families watched television programmes that reinforced the conservative attitude of the time e.g. Leave it to Beaver, The Nelsons, Father Knows Best.
fashion attitudes
Fashion & Attitudes
  • Men especially when going to work wore gray flannel suits and ties.
  • Women wore dresses with pinched in waists and high heels.
  • Children were expected to address their father as ‘sir’ and show respect to anyone who was older.

Smoking and drinking were commonplace, with advertisements persuading both men and women to smoke.

  • Families worked together, played together and vacationed together. Gender roles were strongly held, girls played with  Barbie Dolls  and Dale Evans gear, boys with Roy Rogers and Davy Crockett paraphernalia.