The 1950s had very strict social rules. The bases of the society revolved around the male being the Breadwinner and the women staying at home looking after the children. It was expected that the children would respect authority by doing as they were told and not speaking out of term. The children would not be allowed to question or go against anything that the adults said. Many teenagers did not like these rules and expectations causing them to rebel against authority. They would wear what they wanted, say what they thought, do what they pleased and listen to the music that they liked. The adults had not seen such behaviour before and didn’t know how to react.

J.D. Salinger uses the language technique of swearing to highlight Holden non-conformity by having him continuously swear throughout the story. Holden has no regard for those around him, whether they are adults or not, as he continually uses coarse language in his everyday life. By having Holden swear so much, J.D. Salinger creates the impression that Holden doesn’t fit in and doesn't want to conform with societies rules.

"Nothing. No idea. You really can dance," I said. "I have a kid sister that's only in the goddam fourth grade. You're about as good as she is, and she can dance better than anybody living or dead."

"Watch your language, if you don't mind."

This quote tells us that Holden saw swearing as natural. It shows that by swearing, he wasn’t conforming because this lady was offended by this and wasn’t going to let him get away with it.

By having the main character in his story swear so much, J.D. Salinger is challenging the idea that teenagers should be well mannered. He is questioning the idea of teenagers not speaking their mind and acting out is bundling up their emotions causing a negative effect on their life.

''I don't want you to get the idea she was a goddam icicle or something, just because we never necked or horsed around much. She wasn't. I held hands with her all the time, for instance. That doesn't sound like much, I realize, but she was terrific to hold hands with. Most girls if you hold hands with them, their goddam hand dies on you, or else they think they have to keep moving their hand all the time, as if they were afraid they'd bore you or something. Jane was different.''

This quote reaffirms Salinger's that teenagers are bundling up their emotions as even when Holden is narrating his thoughts, he swears. He is telling us that the idea conformity can be bad for teenagers as they develop.

Comment Stream

3 years ago

Hello Hayden, I really enjoyed reading your cultural assumption post, you identified the cultural assumption clearly, gave well-structured examples and related to your book using examples and quotes. I liked how you included images to justify the time era of the 1950’s you were talking about and how the pictures matched the proposed topics you were explaining. You identified “J.D. Salinger” and “Holden” but I didn’t know who these people were, you could have explained them as character or author next time. Your assumption is correct and I believe you have compared the assumption with the era now very well. It was interesting reading that the woman/wives stayed at home and looked after the children back then and I learnt from that. Also it was interesting how some teenagers didn’t listen to their parents and disobeyed the rules. Similar in our blogs is that we both identified the cultural assumption and how the author accepts the assumption, saying that people in the 1950’s did rebel against the community and laws and didn’t follow the parent’s restrictions. The difference in our blogs is the very well done images relating to the blog in yours but the depth in my storyline that I showed. Very well done blog Hayden.