Historical context

Catcher in the Rye Web Quest

The Catcher in the Rye

While evaluating J. D. Salinger's novel, the Cather in the rye, one can aspect that the novel would have a major influence when it was published in the 1950s


Q1. How was the critical reception of the novel illustrative of the time period?

A. Many agrue that Salinger's tale enlightenment and depression takes a critical look at the problems facing American teenagers during the 1950's .

Q2. What pressures specific to the time period influenced Holden? How were people supposed to ect?

A. In the 1950s, women felt tremendous societal pressure to focus their aspirations on a wedding ring. Getting married right out of high school or while in college was expected. In the 1950s sex was viewed as a key component of a healthy and loving marriage. While men were expected to take on the role of the leader.

Q3. Explain the growth of consumer culture in the post-war era. How is this reflected in the novel?

A. In the 1950s consumer values dominated the American economy and culture. The "good life" was defined by economic terms and the dynamic economy provided more leisure and income. Above all, Americans were confident the good life was permanent and they enjoyed flashy cars, televisions, and an openness about sex. In some ways mass marketing and consumerism brought about a material conformity. In social areas, like religion, and gender roles conformity seemed to be the norm.

info found at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/pill/peopleevents/p_mrs.html

Q4. What, if any, support would have helped Holden to become a well-adjusted teen?

A. Holden is constantly changing schools, he does not keep a stable relationship, and he is not in a good environment. An important factor that has the influence on holden for the better.

Q5. How do you think the Cold War influenced Holden's culture? Focus on people, events, ideology, places, etc. Think about: Which countries were involved in the Cold War? What were they fighting/angry about?

Q6. How did the House Un-American Activities Commission influence everyday life for American citizens? (Meaning, what did they do that affected regular people’s lives?)
A. In the postwar atmosphere of fear and contempt for the Soviet Union, at which time HUAC's activities commanded broad popular support and consistently attracted major headlines.

Q7. Identify at least 5 ways WWII impacted American culture. What happened as a result of the war?


1. The Cold War

2. The war fueled an American overconfidence about itself

3. Personal income rose dramatically

4. The growth of suburbs

5. Growth of car owners

Q8. Is Holden an early example of the "Counter-Culture Cycle"? Why/why not?

A. Yes Holden is an early example of "Counter-Culture Cycle", (Counter-Culture being the culture and lifestyle of those people, especially among the young, who reject or oppose the dominant values and behavior of society.) because he has his own opinion on what he thinks and how he thinks he should behave. He also rejects society's morals.

Definition found at : http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/counterculture

Textual Evidence

In my mind, I'm probably the biggest sex maniac you ever saw. ~J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, Chapter 9

Textual Evidence

"Take most people, they're crazy about cars. They worry if they get a little scratch on them, and they're always talking about how many miles they get to a gallon, and if they get a brand-new car already they start thinking about trading it in for one that's even newer. I don't even like old cars. I mean they don't even interest me. I'd rather have a goddam horse. A horse is at least human, for God's sake." ~J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, Chapter 17

Textual Evidence

Anyway, I'm sort of glad they've got the atomic bomb invented. If there's ever another war, I'm going to sit right the hell on top of it. I'll volunteer for it, I swear to God I will. ~J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, Chapter 18

Quiz: True or False

1. Throughout the novel, Holden characteristics changed.

2. Did WWII influence Holden's view on life?

3. Holden never contradicts himself

4. J.D. Salinger never expalins the correlation and connection between the title of the book and its main chartacter.

5. Holden talks about his problems to others throughout the novel.

6. Religion is crucial to Holden.

7. Holden insist that he is a consistent liar.

8. Jane changed Holden's aspects on life.

9. Not having a positive rolemodel or someone to give him good direction, made him bitter and careless.

10. Holden was only bitter and mean to people because he was immature.

Quiz Answers

1. True

2. True

3. False

4. False

5. false

6. True

7. True

8. False

9. True

10. True


Salinger, J. D. The Catcher in the Rye. Boston: Little, Brown, 1951. Print.