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 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 fiscal, political, or social privilege, looked as if it would own in its place very important cultural assets and a intensity of feeling no longer present in "grey flannel" the United States.
In this wide-ranging and vividly written cultural historical past, 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 extraordinary shift replaced American tradition and society. Love for outsiders introduced the politics of either the hot Left and the hot correct. From the mid-sixties during the eighties, it flourished within the hippie counterculture, the back-to-the-land move, the Jesus humans circulate, and between fundamentalist and Pentecostal Christians operating to place their conventional isolation and separatism as strengths. It replaced the very which 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 need for a morally significant and actual existence.
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Extra info for A Nation of Outsiders: How the White Middle Class Fell in Love with Rebellion in Postwar America
The problem is that Holden believes he should not have sex or even “horse around” with girls he does not like, but with girls he does like, he wants to be careful. ” Even his appearance is contradictory: “I act quite young for my age sometimes. . and sometimes I act like I’m about thirteen. ” Others, especially his father, think he is immature: “It’s pretty true, too, but it isn’t all true. ” 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.
Culture” has always been a notoriously slippery and yet useful term. At midcentury, the meaning of the concept underwent something of a metamorphosis in common usage. Intellectuals since the early twentieth century, led most importantly by the anthropologist Franz Boas and the sociologist Robert Park, had developed a conception of culture as everything a people produces, all its symbols and meanings, its gods and laws and hopes, as well as its clothes and songs and homes. Boas, Park, and their followers used this conception of culture to fight the white supremacist beliefs entrenched in “scientific” thought about human nature and racial hierarchies, promoting in its place a kind of relativism.
Holden wants the world to be like this childish vision. Allie and even James Castle will not have to die then. And Holden, who calls out, “Allie don’t let me disappear. 21 When Maurice the pimp hits Holden as Sunny takes his money, he falls to the bathroom floor and thinks he is dying. Then he starts pretending that he Lost Children of Plenty 23 has a bullet in his guts. Holden “pictures himself ” drinking a shot of bourbon and getting his gun. ” He will be a man of action. As the end of the film in his mind slaps the reel, he thinks about the gap between this movie fantasy and reality.
A Nation of Outsiders: How the White Middle Class Fell in Love with Rebellion in Postwar America by Grace Elizabeth Hale