The classic novel is that I am studying is The Catcher In The Rye. If you would like to know a little about it before you read my posts click on the title and it will take you to a website.  Libby xx

Cultural Assumptions

Teenage Delinquency

Character of Holden Caulfield comes across as a 1950s teen who feels like he is being pushed away by everyone around him i.e. his parents, school and friends and is being ignored making him feel worthless. He also comes across as a rebellious through the evidence that he smokes and swears and not wanting to be "normal." Examples from the text that shows this is when he refers to his childhood as "lousy" and when he refers to being expelled from Pencey as being "kicked out." This suggests that he feels that they don`t want him at the school and he is just another rebellious kid that they have to put up with. The use of these phrases and phrases like these creates a persona of Holden that portrays him as the rebellious, outcast that enhances the idea of the cultural assumption of teenage delinquency. The fact that his parents have sent him away to school in the first place means that they didn’t want to have anything to do with him and they consider him as an outcast because he is a teenager who does rebel. However, whilst the image of Holden being portrayed is this rebellious, worthless, teenage delinquent that smokes and swears, could the author, JD Salinger, be trying to convey the idea of teenage delinquents being rebellious because they are considered as outcasts in society because of this idea or assumption that they aren`t like everyone else because they are teenagers and this is what makes them want attention because they feel lonely and unwanted An example of Holden being lonely is when he says "Well – take me to the Edmont then," I said. "Would you care to stop on the way and join me for a cocktail? On me, I'm loaded." This quotes tells us that Holden doesn`t want be alone so much that he is willing to ask the Taxi driver to have a drink with him. He is so desperate for someone to talk to that he`ll ask just about anyone to join him and make him feel wanted and accepted. The author is challenging the idea that these teens are not delinquents they are just lonely and want attention. The author portrays this message using imagery when he is referring to Holden sitting by himself in his room with no place to go.

Mental Illness

In the 1950s mental health was shameful in society as it was considered a weakness and not an illness.

The main mental illnesses displayed in Catcher in the Rye are depression and anxiety. This is shown repeatedly throughout the text through the language techniques of repetition and emotive language. The use of words like nervous and depressed over and over again and it becomes a common feeling that we begin to expect from Holden. Examples from the text that suggests that Holden has anxiety include: " I'm quite a nervous guy" and "It made me so nervous I nearly went crazy." Examples that shows that Holden is depressed include the use of the word depressed repeatedly, evidence from the text that supports this are quotes such as " ..sitting there all by myself..," " made me feel depressed and lousy again" and "..the more depressed I got." Another way that mental illness is portrayed in the text is through the repeated image that we are forced to think about of Holden being lonely. This is evident through in the text when Holden states that the first thing he did when he got off at Penn Station was going into the phone booth and felt like giving somebody a buzz but as soon as he was inside, he couldn't think of anybody to call up so he ended up not calling anybody after about twenty minutes. This shows that he truly was lonely and he didn’t have anyone to call not even family. His family repeatedly push him away and he doesn`t have the social that allows him to be able to just call someone up. Is this why Holden has these illnesses because he doesn`t have a support network or the knowledge on how to cope with the situations the author is continually placing him in. This is reflected through the technique of imagery where we are again forced to think about this teenage boy sitting in his room by himself or through the excerpt of " I stood for a while with my bags near the stairs, I took a last look down the goddam corridor. I was sort of crying, I don’t know why but I was" . JD Salinger is challenging the idea of mental illnesses being an accepted part of life that is a disease and should be treated with the same respect that we treat other physical illnesses with. He is challenging the fact that these teenagers are behaving in certain ways because they are being pushed away and ignored. JD Salinger has created this persona of Holden Caulfield that represents the reality of teens in the 1950s and puts him in amongst the personas of the "typical" 1950s teens and showing the contrast of the assumption and the reality.

Social Class

Throughout the 1950s social class played a very important role in society. It determined who you were and who your offspring was mostly their entire lives. There were three classes the higher class or wealthy, the middle class blue collar workers and the lower class factory workers. It was harder to move up the spectrum than to move down it. In the catcher in the rye we see the technique of repetition used to show us this mind set. This is shown through the repeated use of the word phony. This word describes what Holden feels about the whole idea of the way society is structured and how everyone was just putting on this act and being fake. An example form the text that shows this is when he refers to them all being "goddam phonies". The author is challenging the idea of the social structure of the 1950s through the use of the technique of a metaphor. The metaphor that is used at the very end of the book refers to life being a big game and in order to win you have to play by the rules. This is referring to the way that society is expected to behave and if they don’t live right to the word of the "law" than they cannot win the game. He is challenging the idea of playing by the rules and continuing "tradition" and standing out in society, being individual.

Comment Stream

2 years ago

Libby, I think for your blog on Teenage Delinquency has outlined the cultural assumption really well. The examples you have put in are detailed and clearly explained. Your opinion on J.D. Salinger on challenging the assumptions is well done and clearly stated. I can see some similarities between your book and mine. I think you can make the techniques and the authors opinion a little more obvious. I'm can't wait to read the next one.

2 years ago

Great Work. I think you have clearly outlined the cultural assumption of Mental Illness. The examples you have put in are clearly explained and link to the assumption really well. I think you could state the technique a bit better and put in some images to show the assumption. Other than that you have linked to the context really well and have clearly show the authors opinion. Great Work!