English Blog Task
Teenage delinquency in the 1950's was teenagers trying not to feel left out and ignored by society by trying to create their own image and culture. They wanted recognition of their generation. There is large gap between childhood and adulthood and the book shows how difficult it is to transition between the two, as shown by Holden as he tries to find his place. Teenagers often felt ignored and confused and acted out to get attention. They wanted support and something to acknowledge that they were there. They needed something about them and for them. Hen challenges the concept of delinquency by showing that Holden is alone, frustrated and ignored, causing him to do things for attention. Eg, smoking, asking for drinks underaged, always alone, craving attention, being ignored by society, does the wrong thing for attention. Holden is always asking people to 'sit down and have a drink' and saying that he is 'awful lonesome' J.D. Salinger is challenging the cultural assumptions of teenage delinquency in this novel because not a lot of people understood why teenagers were acting out and being rebellious. J.D. Salinger wanted to show it from a 'teenage delinquent's' point of view.
The 1950s was a time when the treatment of mental health patients was getting better although patients were still thought to be sick. Patients were no longer restrained with chains and behaviour therapy and the first anti-psychotic drugs were introduced. Holden is always saying throughout the book that everything around him is depressing so it is assumed that Holden himself is depressed. Holden barely gets any sleep over the course of the whole book which is one of the symptoms of depression. He also drinks quite a bit and is quite reckless in his decisions. J.D. Salinger questions the assumptions of mental health by writing the story from the perspective of a mentally unwell character. He shows what it is like to be depressed from a depressed persons point of view. J.D. Salinger challenges the cultural assumption of mental health because even though people were beginning to understand mental health, not a lot of people knew what it was like to have a mental health problem.
Your social class in the 1950s was based on your family's social class. You were able to move up a class but usually you stayed in the same class you were born in. Social class also depended on where you lived, you could be of high class in one place but middle class in another. Holden is always critical of the society in which he lives. He constantly calls nearly every adult a 'phony', the only two adults who he does not are the two nuns he meets. J.D. Salinger questions why material wealth (money, cars etc) is so important to the 1950s society. He does this by having Holden reject the values of Pency, believing the school to be only a place to 'mold students into valuable members of society'. J.D Salinger is questioning the values of social classes and material wealth because it was a part of life that everyone in that 1950s society (and even today) went through and never questioned. Everyone was expected to go to school, get a car, house and job, have a family and grow old.