Conformity was very big in the 1950's as everyone was to stick to their role and not go against what they were taught. It is a social influence that involves the belief to fit in with your individual social group. Children were expected to be seen however not heard. They were to obey the rules and only show positivity. They were not to question the values they were brought up on by their parents. Throughout The Catcher in Rye we are shown many examples of conformity through two language techniques, theme and language.
Throughout this novel we are displayed themes that show Holden and his struggle to fit in and conform with the society. The adults are a theme within this book whom Holden doesn't tend to relate to what they are saying to him. An example is when Holden's teacher Mr Spencer is trying to help Holden get his life together, however Holden just thinks to himself "But it was just that we were too much on opposite sides of the pole, that's all". Holden refers to the fact that he is just not interested in their help because he isn't serious about his future. Another example is when Holden displays his dislike of society's values through Percy Prep. Their motto is "moulding boys into splendid, clear-thinking young men". He rejects these values as he believes that school is where the people should come to learn how to become the new responsible members of society. Throughout the novel, the pressure to conform is very critical however Holden believes that none of it seems worthwhile. The society is concerned with material things like money and he feels this is wrong. This is the reason why the nuns are the only two adults Holden can relate to and generally cares about.
Holden's sister Phoebe is a very influential person in this book. She plays a bigger role than expected. We picture her as the voice of society telling Holden that maybe he shouldn't be doing some of the things he is. A quote is, "You did get kicked out! You did", and then she asks him "Why did you do it?". She is questioning Holden's lack of focus in his school work exactly like his adult teachers tried to.
The language used throughout this novel by Holden Caulfield. Holden often refers to the adults in the society as being fake. His most commonly word used is phonies. "You never saw so many phonies is all your life, everybody smoking their ears off and talking about the play so that everyone could hears how sharp they were". He doesn't understand the fact why adults are only interested in themselves and how other people see them in society. He feels that they should not try to blend in with everyone else, rather be yourself then the next person. The next language technique that is used is a metaphor, "Life being a game and all. And how you should play it according to the rules". This metaphor of playing by the rules means you are conforming with society. If you play by the rules then you are just fitting in with the crowd. You need to do what society expects you to do in order to have a successful life, otherwise you won't fit in. J.D Salinger challenges this idea of conformity by using Holden to reject these values of society. Holden doesn't believe in the way that society has to conform and have specific beliefs as a group.
These examples relate to conformity in the 1950's and how conformity influenced the society and how everyone was expected to act.