Catcher in the Rye

Cultural perception of women, pop culture & American psyche

By: Brianna Chandler, Kyle Garner and Jeffrey Washington


When examining J.D Salinger's novel, " The Cather in the Rye", main character, Holden Caulfield experiences many different emotional states and sees adult life from an up close point of view, while wondering around 1950s New York.

Questions: First Set

1. The role of women in society during the transiting post war period, changed drastically. During the WWII it was very common for women to be in the workforce, because of the shortage of men due to the war. Women took jobs that usually only males performed. As soon as the war was over the forties was half over and rolling over into the the fifties. During this time women were expected to go back to being stay at home moms and other female oriented occupations. More than half the women in the working field traded their work clothes in for aprons. During this time a lot of women dropped out of school to get married and start a family.

2. According to Hollywood, the ideal woman during this time period, was literally the perfect wife. Television shows gave prime examples of the perfect housewife like The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, I Love Lucy and Leave It to Beaver. These women portrayed in these television shows were what ideal woman should act like and set standards for the american women. Women should always be dressed up and have dinner ready for their man as soon as he arrives home.

3. For the first time women were being exposed in a new way, through magazines. During this postwar era pin up girls in magazines and posters became big in exposing sexy women. Another way was through television, although television at this time was very conservative, in ways like married couples didn’t share a bed together or swear at all. Television still gave people a mind set on how women should act and the public tried to be these women. This was a new transition for women some for the good of it, some for the bad.

4. Holdens perspective on women and romantic interests is probably compromised due to the factor of his generation. Television shows could give holden the idea that women are useless unless in the house, which then could affect the way he converses with females. A woman of his time that dresses like more of a floozy; Holden might speak to them with more of an ignorant tone and think very little of them.

5. During the early 1950s, everything changed. From music to fashion to hair to cars and to houses. Everyone moved to the suburbs and one of the most popular events happened; the baby boom. The most desired items in 1951, were family cars, and television sets. Especially in this time period, those two items were considered necessities.

6. In the 50s, Rock and Roll became popular and so did the artists that composed and sang it. Legends like Nat King Cole and his songs like "unforgettable" and "too young". Also Johnnie Ray and his hit song "cry". Johnny Cash and his hit song " I walk the line".

7. J.D. Salinger's unhealthy and unstable relationships with everyone in his life really had a deep impact on his novel "The Catcher in the Rye". Salinger was content with loneliness and simplicity, and that is what really separated him from the outside world. It's obvious that some of the traits J.D. had, were written into the main character Holden Caulfield.

Questions: Second Set

1. World War ll affected J.D. Salinger dramatically. He did not escape the war without some trauma. Salinger was hospitalized after having a nervous breakdown. The war also affected his writings as well. His post-war writings had more serious tones and they discuss life and reality. For example "A Perfect day for Bananafish".

2. Salinger's life style was very reclusive. He was very private, especially when it came to personal matters. Unfortunately, for J.D. Salinger, his lifestyle choice made difficult for people to stay away. When people don't know much about you, the more they want to know. According to one of his former lover's, he lived a very simple life and enjoyed rural existence.

3. The irony about the author's own son, Matt Salinger, is that his lifestyle is the exact opposite of his father's. He's a famous actor, and his life is open to the public. Matt Salinger, isn't secretive like his father was.

4. Salinger's biography is a lot like the fictional character Holden Caulfield. They both enjoy being alone, they distance themselves from the world. Salinger wasn't much of a student, he flunked out of the McBurney Boarding School. Holden Caulfield flunked out of three boarding schools. Also they're were both in love with women miles away from them. For Holden Caulfield, it was Jane Gallagher and for J.D. it was Joyce Maynard.

5. A movie version for The Catcher in the Rye does't exist because Salinger refused to sell the rights to the novel. According to Salinger's letter he wrote to Mr. Herbert, he goes on to say " I keep saying this and nobody seems to agree, but "The Catcher in the Rye" is a very novelistic novel. There are ready made "scenes"--- only a fool would deny that--- but, for me the nonstop peculiarities of it, his personal, extremely discriminating attitude to his reader/listener. I find that idea if not odious, at least odious enough to keep me from selling the rights''.

6. If The Cather in the Rye was a movie, Drake would play Holden caulfied because they both deal with rapid mood swings. The Rock, would be the perfect character for Stradlater, they're both big. Will Farrel would play Ackley because he's annoying and can be a Nuisance at some times.

Textual Evidence

Page 75. "They said they were going to get up early to see the show at Radio City Music Hall."

Page 74. "I ordered two more Cokes for myself."

Page 52. "This guy I lent my typewriter to."

Page 67. "She's quite skinny, like me, but nice skinny. She's rollerskate skinny"

True and False Questions

1. The character Ackley is like a fly.

2. Matthew Salinger is just like his father Jerome David Salinger.

3. In the 1950s all girls wore appropriate clothing that covered their skin.

4. "The Rock" would play holden in our version.

5. J.D. Salinger suffered great trauma during his time in the army.

6. J.D Salinger lived a normal and happy life.

7. Holden Caulfield contains his emotions while wondering through 1950s New Jersey.

8. Holden Caulfield is infatuated with his sister.

9. Johnny Cash made the hit song "Cry".

10. Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, I Love Lucy and Leave It to Beaver weren't examples of the ideal woman in the 50s.

Answers to the True and False

1. True, because he is annoying and constantly in your face.

2. False, he's very open.

3. False, fashion changed dramatically and skirts that showed ankles and legs were in

4. False, he would play Stadlater in our version

5.True, he was hospitalized for having a nervous breakdown

6.Fale, he was very reclusive or shut out from the outside world.

7.False, he's an emotional wreck and he wonders around 1950s New York.

8.True, he expresses deep passion for her.

9.False Johnnie Ray made "Cry"

10.Fasle, they were shows of how the ideal woman in the 1950s should be.