Conformity in the 1950’s was the ideal way of life for most people. Conformity was how people were supposed to live their lives. Men were supposed to go to school and graduate get a good job, car, house and raise a family. For women it was usually finish school get a basic job get married and then have a family. In the catcher in the rye Holden often refers to people that comply with conformity as being phony. For example “I'd have this rule that nobody could do anything phony when they visited me. If anybody tried to do anything phony, they couldn't stay.” In the 1950’s teenagers saw conformity as adults telling them what to do so it was usually the cause for teens to disobey rules and do what they wanted.
In the catcher in the rye J.D. Salinger questions conformity through the main character Holden Caulfield. Holden doesn’t like the thought of conformity and growing up and having to be a responsible adult but he does want the privileges of an adult. “We'll stay in these cabin camps and stuff like that till the dough runs out. Then, when the dough runs out, I could get a job somewhere and we could live somewhere with a brook and all and, later on, we could get married or something.” In this quote Holden states that he would feel more comfortable running away from conformity and the expectations that society puts on young people like Holden. He does this because he is daunted by what people want and expect from him. Holden is always saying that he doesn’t want to be a phony like everyone else, instead he wants to act like a child but be treated as an adult.