Juvenile Delinquency in the 1950's

The 1950's was a time of change in the United Sates. A country experiencing a post war economic boom and with that they saw the influx of media reaching almost all parts of America. Up until the 1950's young adolescents maintained the status quo, conformed with the rest of society and would abide by their parents rules. But the increased pressure and mixed messages coming from media began to reach these young adults, and very quickly they began to develop their own idea of who the wanted to be, and from this came the term 'teenager'.

These teenagers were independent and knew what they wanted, and to conform was the least of their worries. These juvenile delinquents were rebellious, careless risk takers, they thought they were untouchable. TV, movies and music of the time continued to condone the ways these teenagers were living which just fueled their fire.

You want to rock and roll

It's been your big dream
You ought to celebrate
Girl, you're only sixteen

Ignore your mom and dad
And do what you feel
You gotta be yourself
And follow your dreams

Don't let them call you a juvenile delinquent
Don't let them say, say that you're bad
Don't let them call you a juvenile delinquent
Just follow your dreams, you'll never be sad

You ain't a kid no more
Adolescence behind
You're looking good these days
Believe me, girl, I'm not blind

Now there's no turning back
Baby, you've made up your mind
It's time to stand your ground
You know that you've turned the tide

Don't let them call you a juvenile delinquent
Don't let them say, say that you're bad
Don't let them call you a juvenile delinquent
Just follow your dreams, you'll never be sad

Life's too short, you gotta realize
The days go by, turn into years
Rock and roll, it's just a way of life
It's here for me, for me and you

It's time to party now
Enjoy what we've missed
Screw everybody else
And raise up your fist

Don't let them call you a juvenile delinquent
Don't let them say, say that you're bad
Don't let them call you a juvenile delinquent
Just follow your dreams, you'll never be sad

And listen
Don't let them call you a juvenile delinquent
Don't let them say, say that you're bad
Don't let them say that
Don't let them call you a juvenile delinquent
Just follow

Catcher in the Rye - Delinquency

J.D Salinger highlights teenage delinquency on many accounts in this novel, one of which being Holden Caulfield's rebellious nature and personality (flunking school, lying about his age, swearing etc)

A specific theme element where this delinquency is portrayed is through the excessive smoking the Caulfield partakes in throughout the novel.

Teenager's of the 1950's were infamous for this kind of behaviour. Along with the demand to be independent came the attitude where these young adults were careless and would do anything but what they were told or expected to do, these teenagers wanted to challenge society's expectations of them.

I believe Salinger wanted to question the idea that on first glance Caulfield may seem to be just a juvenile delinquent, but below the surface is just a sad, young boy who is reluctant about growing up and is sick of being lonely with reason behind his rebellious nature.

This poses the question that maybe teenage delinquents aren't simply smoking, swearing and being rebellious for the sake of it, maybe these young people are just lonely and have underlying mental health issues that explain for their nature and actions.

Salinger challenges this concept of a 'juvenile delinquent' throughout the novel. One particular way he does this is through the characterization of Holden Caulfield.

Caulfield is alone in the city and pays to have a prostitute come to his room. But unsuspecting to the reader Caulfield does not partake in any such actions as he would be expected to, being the juvenile delinquent he is portrayed to be. Instead Caulfield simply wants a conversation, he PAYS this girl to have a conversation with him! This begs the question that maybe Caulfield is just a lonely young boy scared of the world around him rather than a young teen looking to cause trouble

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