Cultural Assumption 1: Teenage Delinquency in the 1950s

Teenage delinquency is acting against the social norms and values of society, in simpler terms it's anti-social behaviour. For example, Holden was a teenage delinquent in America 1950 as he was behaving against society orders.

The context of 1950's America, post World War II, was one where consumerism and conformity were valued. The author, J.D. Salinger, questioned this through his characterisation of Holden as a teenage delinquent. J.D. Salinger's repetition of 'phony' in Holden's dialogue tells us how he sees the world difference to others. Holden purposely isolates himself from others as he doesn't want to be out with student's from his school as they represent the society he is rebelling against. J.D. Salinger uses the visual motif of the red hunting hat to differentiate Holden from society. The idea of staying as a child and not growing up tells us that he his rejecting life as an adult in society and staying a teenage delinquent. I have found two quotes, stated below, that depict Holden as a teenage delinquent.

"Would you care for a cigarette?" I asked her.
She looked all around. "I don't believe this is a smoker, Rudolf," she said. Rudolf. That killed me. - Chapter 8.

"At the end of the first act we went out with all the other jerks for a cigarette. What a deal that was. You never saw so many phonies in all your life, everybody smoking their ears off and talking about the play so that everybody could hear how sharp they were." - Chapter 17

In today's society and culture Holden's actions would be seen as outrageous as society is more accepting. Holden wasn't accepted in 1950 culture as he made himself an outcast of society by not adhering to society norms. Holden did this by not going out on Saturday nights, not going to football matches and alienating everyone around him through his lack of social skills. Whilst teenage delinquency was and still is considered to be negative by giving Holden some redeeming qualities, such as his love for Pheobe, we see that not blindly adhering or conforming to society's expectations is not always a bad thing.

Comment Stream

2 years ago

I really enjoyed reading your blog!
Just a suggestion, but maybe you could firstly explain what a teenage delinquent is, to give more background information on the cultural assumption. Through doing this it could give you more of an introduction into your topic so it is clearly stated that you are doing the assumption of teenage delinquency. I liked the way you stated that Holden calls everyone 'phonies' to add to your reasons. You could also expand on this by adding quotes about how much Holden smokes and drinks (which is an act by a delinquent) to make your point even more obvious. I absolutely loved the bit you added about his red hunting hat, I honestly didn't pick that up from the book, I really suggest you add that to your formal assessment, I love it!! I can clearly see that the element you chose was characterization. Another suggestion could be writing about how teenage delinquents were treated and how they acted in society in the 1950's and how this assumption links and impacts to the time and place. Some of the writing stated in this blog post could also be added to your third blog of social class/ conformity such as the bit about the red hunting hat, you could say that "Salinger talks about his red hunting hat to differentiate Holden from society" because we all know that Holden doesn't want to be like the rest of society. I can clearly identify that the author is J.D. Salinger which is helpful, you could choose to talk about what you think Salinger's thoughts were on the assumption of Teenage Delinquency by saying that " Salinger in challenging the assumption by saying that maybe teenagers aren't delinquents and maybe they are just lonely?" and give examples to show this.
Overall our blog posts are quiet similar with most of the writing, In mine I have also added a clip that clearly shows what teenage delinquents got up too in the 1950's. I also really liked the cartoon picture, which gives examples there too!
Well done on your blog, I hope this helps. Sorry it is a bit long!
Enjoy :)

2 years ago