By Grace Elizabeth Hale
At mid-century, american citizens more and more fell in love with characters like Holden Caulfield in Catcher within the Rye and Marlon Brando's Johnny in The Wild One, musicians like Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan, and activists just like the participants of the coed Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. those feelings enabled a few middle-class whites to chop freed from their very own histories and establish with those that, whereas missing monetary, political, or social privilege, looked as if it would own as an alternative important cultural assets and a intensity of feeling no longer present in "grey flannel" the USA.
In this wide-ranging and vividly written cultural background, Grace Elizabeth Hale sheds gentle on why such a lot of white middle-class american citizens selected to re-imagine themselves as outsiders within the moment 1/2 the 20th century and explains how this remarkable shift replaced American tradition and society. Love for outsiders introduced the politics of either the recent Left and the hot correct. From the mid-sixties during the eighties, it flourished within the hippie counterculture, the back-to-the-land flow, the Jesus humans stream, and between fundamentalist and Pentecostal Christians operating to put their conventional isolation and separatism as strengths. It replaced the very that means of "authenticity" and "community."
Ultimately, the romance of the outsider supplied an inventive answer to an intractable mid-century cultural and political conflict-the fight among the will for self-determination and autonomy and the need for a morally significant and real existence.
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Extra resources for A Nation of Outsiders: How the White Middle Class Fell in Love with Rebellion in Postwar America
In Central Park at night, a place he knows “like the back of my hand,” Holden gets lost in the spooky dark looking for the duck pond. 14 Visiting the best teacher he ever had, “old Antolini,” at a very “swanky apartment” on Sutton Place, Holden seems poised at last to find some meaning. Antolini cautions him against his romantic fatalism, against “dying nobly” for an unworthy cause. “You’ll find that you’re not the first person who was ever confused or frightened and even sickened by human behavior,” Antolini insists.
Allie replies Dickinson. Salinger here, intentionally or not, offers a critique of novelists like Norman Mailer who talked about the war and other horrors as great experiences for writers and paraded their own presence in battle as the source of their works’ authenticity and truth. “Real” life can be all too romantic, and people can know, like Dickinson, what they do not directly take part in or witness. ” D. B. can hate the war and the army and yet love A Farewell to Arms, which Holden feels is full of phonies.
The irony is that as Holden sets off from his prep school to find something real, he cannot avoid phoniness himself. He lies to his classmate Ernie Morrow’s mother on the train. He lies in bars to buy drinks. He lies to the prostitute he hires and then is too scared to sleep with when she comes to his hotel room. 13 In Catcher’s urban picaresque, Holden tours the liminal spaces of the city—downtown hotels, jazz clubs, bars, and Central Park and Penn Station at night, places where different kinds of people collide, places on the margins of his white upper-middle-class world—looking for that opposite of phoniness, authenticity, but he does not find it.