3. Conformity

Conformity was a huge thing in the 1950's. Conformity is your expected behaviour in accordance with socially accepted conventions. It is the standard rules or laws in the 1950's. Rules like children being seen but not heard, not talking back, not saying anything but positive and to always great someone as you are generally glad to see them. You were expected to understand and follow these rules of society. As a women or a wife you are expected to dress appropriately all the time and to live up to your husband's expectations. Men were always working and dressed formally. This was the cultural assumptions in the 1950's.

Conformity is shown in the 'catcher in the rye' though the language techniques of Holden Caulfield who constantly uses words like phonies to express his frustration to people with no individuality and everyone who applies themselves to the same rules of the 1950's conformity. It shows that in the 1950's Conformity is prevalent. This is shown in the text through Holden saying " Mr. Haas, that was the phoniest bastard I ever met in my life" He is telling us that he meets a whole lot of phonies and Mr Haas is one of the worst who applies his life to the rules of conformity.

Salinger challenges the idea of conformity when Mr Spencer was lecturing Caulfield and he said "Life is a game, boy. Life is a game that one plays according to the rules."

Mr Spencer is telling the audience that we need to treat life like it is a game and we need to follow the rules to succeed and not to be left behind.

This challenges it as it makes you think about the whole idea of life and the rules of conformity. Life is a game but what if you don’t was to play by the rules, what if he wanted to have a better life, then playing by the rules is what you had to do to be socially accepted.

In conclusion we can understand that Salinger questions the idea of conformity and to be accepted you have to follow the socially accepted rules and laws of the 1950's. This is shown through Holden Caulfield's language throughout this novel.

Livia Pengelly

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