HOLDEN CAULFIELD: HISTORICAL AND PHILOSOPHICAL BACKGROUND OF A MID-20TH CENTURY REBEL

Abstract

Author(s): Olena Boylu

Jerome David Salinger’s only novel Catcher in the Rye provides one of the most vivid pictures of the mid-20th century United States of America. Experience of the Great War, the Great Depression, and the World War II deeply affected American society and after the war ended the only target became a society in consensus. Presidencies of Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower shaped the political, social, economic and cultural agendas of the following decade. A period of conformism, conservatism and consumerism began and the American society changed drastically. The protagonist of the novel, Holden Caulfield, who delivers a story of his journey to the New York City, represents the rebellious character that emerged during this period. While looking for the roots of this type of personality it becomes obvious that the historical and philosophical background of the USA and the world in general plays a crucial role in the formation of such a hero. Peculiar political, economic, and scientific events that unfold during the first half of the 20th century affect his profile and turn him into a rebel against the established social order. Hence, analyzing the historical and philosophical context of the novel and the events revealing within the story, the article aims to clarify the effects of the zeitgeist on the character of the American hero and his rebellious identity.

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