Teenage delinquency in the 50’s was the referred to the way the teenagers behaved at the time. The delinquency refers to the part of the teenagers breaking away from the linear patterns of life in the 50’s and rebel against. The reasons for these delinquents were because they wanted to be viewed as adults as such but by doing so they were feared and rejected from society.
This behaviour is shown in the main delinquent or character Holden Caulfield with his horrible drinking and smoking habits shown mainly in the part where Holden leaves his dorm to go to New York City for a few nights. During these few days Holden goes out drinking in clubs despite the fact that he is well underage to do so, and reaches for a cigarette in every opportunity he gets to. He even says that he had ‘almost smoked two packs of cigarettes since he had being there. He also shows his delinquency by hiring prostitutes to his hotel room, getting in fights with his roommate Stradlater and his repetition of using language like ‘Goddam’, ‘Sonovabitch’ and ‘bastard’ throughout all pages in the book.
J.D Salinger Shows teenage delinquency by writing the book in his perspective. This opens up a large amount of foul language, slang and perspectives on certain situations, for example, he uses words and phrases like ‘it killed me’, his sexual intentions in the novel, him always ‘horsing around’ and his way of him manipulating people to believing something shown especially on the train ride to New York when he sits down with a mother of a kid in Holden’s year who isn’t a very likeable person who is loud and obnoxious and makes his mother think that her son is a high achieving, quiet and modest person.
J.D Salinger challenges this cultural assumption by saying these teenagers aren’t as such delinquent but more so just desperate to be recognized, acknowledged and accepted in society, shown by Holden’s extremely mature outlooks and actions in the society, for example Smoking, drinking and his sexual desires.
Based on my understanding of the culture in the 1950’s J.D Salinger challenges the assumptions of teenage delinquents in this novel to instead make us think that these teens were not thugs or rebels but all they wanted to do was fit in to society and to show their struggle in doing so.