Towards the end of the book, Holden takes his sister out to go on a semi, mini-date before he leaves. While she tries to convince him to take her with him, he wont budge, but takes her to a carousel instead. This represents ties to youth, as we must enjoy it while we can. Teens in the 1940s had wanted to grow up as quickly as possible. The carousel symbolizes a connection to youth and to Phoebe, Holden’s sister. A carousel is an object for fun, for memories, for youth. Just like Phoebe on the carousel, Holden’s feelings go round and round throughout the book, and perhaps he has matured just a bit.
In this section of reading Holden takes a girl out on an ice skating date and asks her to run away with him. This reminds me of the multiple ice skating dates I have experienced and third wheeled at. Ice skating is a romantic, it is no wonder he chose this setting to cross the line and propose the idea of running away together. This event also reminds me of the ice skating date with Buddy the elf and Jovie when they skate at Rockefeller center in New York City. This connection is ironic because Buddy the elf is full of joy and Christmas spirit, where Holden is rebellious and rude. Ice skating is a romantic but overused date that seems to prove effective in movies and books to get people to fall in love.
In chapters 7-12, Holden is going about New York, trying to stay away from home. He, upon taking a cab, mistakenly gives the driver his home address, before correcting him and asking him to take him to a hotel. Holden’s increasing rebelliousness is accurate to the time, as teens with jobs had good pay and no longer needed necessarily to depend on their parents. Elvis Presley’s Jailhouse Rock and the rising rock-and-roll fad gave teens another ‘taboo’ subject to take in as their own. Their main objective was to have fun, and they did. They ‘jitterbug’ed away to the newest beats, and this is mirrored in the novel. After Holden finds his way into the ‘Lavender Room,’ a nightclub at the hotel at which he was staying. He finds a group of three girls, and after deeming one ‘cute,’ asks her to dance. He enjoys her dancing, and when a fast song comes on, they jitterbug away.
America’s First Teenagers: Youth in the Fifties
Elvis Presley’s Jailhouse Rock, released in 1957, was a US #1 hit for 7 weeks.
– Rafael C.
Catcher in the Rye is set in the 1940’s, 1946 to be exact, just after the end of World War II, a time which was characterized with an economic boom due to wartime industry. It was also around this time that “teenagers” became a demographic of their own, though in the beginning the term was used mostly to describe white, middle-class girls. Holden, while very much a teenager, wouldn’t necessarily fit into this group, which in 1944 Time magazine described as “[living] in a world all their own- a lovely, gay, enthusiastic, funny and blissful society”. Holden is jaded and rather depressed, angry at the world and the people in it. This, too, was common, with teens left adrift, directionless after the war ends. Many have good jobs, but often found new ways to rebel to find their place in life. At this point in the book, though, Holden has little to no friends, no apparent affection towards his family, or ties to any one particular place or hobby. He is more directionless than anyone, tending to do things for no specific reason, and to not care outwardly about anything, which makes him seem like more of an outcast.
The Invention of Teenagers: LIFE and the Triumph of Youth Culture
Youth Culture in the 1940’s
— Vivienne K.