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 individuals of the scholar 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 very important cultural assets and a intensity of feeling now not present in "grey flannel" the USA.
In this wide-ranging and vividly written cultural heritage, Grace Elizabeth Hale sheds mild on why such a lot of white middle-class american citizens selected to re-imagine themselves as outsiders within the moment 1/2 the 20 th century and explains how this exceptional shift replaced American tradition and society. Love for outsiders introduced the politics of either the hot Left and the recent correct. From the mid-sixties during the eighties, it flourished within the hippie counterculture, the back-to-the-land stream, the Jesus humans flow, and between fundamentalist and Pentecostal Christians operating to place 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 solution to an intractable mid-century cultural and political conflict-the fight among the will for self-determination and autonomy and the will for a morally significant and actual existence.
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Additional resources for A Nation of Outsiders: How the White Middle Class Fell in Love with Rebellion in Postwar America
What a mob’d be there. 25 There are many of these movie-like scenes in Catcher, places where Holden confesses he is playacting his life and more subtle passages when he leaves his borrowed stories—the stock plots of a hundred pulp novels, cheap plays, and popular movies—for his readers to find. “If there’s one thing I hate, it’s the movies,” he tells us, even as he imitates them. Holden craves the audience—“I’m an exhibitionist”—that this borrowed drama at least potentially provides, people who might care about him.
Holden even contradicts himself here. Truths that are all true are exactly what he is looking for, truths that, unlike the adults he encounters, stand firm. 16 With no one to guide him, Holden refuses to grow up and remains a mass of contradictions. Getting kicked out of school means he never has to graduate. Being a virgin means he never has to think about his interactions with women like Sally, that girl Jane Gallagher that he really liked who keeps her Lost Children of Plenty 21 kings in the back row when she plays checkers, or anyone else in more complicated terms.
Again and again, Holden wonders where the ducks in Central Park go when the lagoon is frozen. He asks taxicab drivers, who think he is crazy. Does the city come and get them and haul them to a warm home? Do they fly south, migrating out of the winter like retirees? Do they bed down and tough it out in the woods and brush, along the shore? Later, investigating the lagoon himself, he tromps along its frozen messy edges in the dark. Wondering about the ducks is a child’s way of dealing with death, of hoping that the missing will return.