Holden's Use Of Materialism In Catcher In The Rye

1695 Words7 Pages
Attending school in the 1950s, Holden is a victim of a conformist American society. In a historical context, postwar America is characterized by a booming economy, industrialization and the creation of uniform suburban communities throughout the country. There was also a call for a united America, with the tensions of the Cold War taking hold and a need to fight communism. This attitude of uniformity could be seen in the American education system at the same time, where students were expected to fit the mould of the ideal American child. This child was idealized as being obedient, respectful and subordinate to their superiors. This is exactly what Holden grows to detest whilst attending Pencey, the conformist culture he was forced into, which Holden describes as “corny” (Salinger, 19) or “phony”…show more content…
When the school is captivated watching the football game at the field, Holden refuses to mix with the rest of the student body and instead chooses to watch it from “...way the hell up on top of Thomsen Hill.” When in New York, Holden visits a lagoon in Central Park, which is mostly frozen over. He also ponders whether the ducks will be at the lagoon during winter. Holden “walked around the whole damn lake” (Salinger, 200) and to his detriment, “…didn’t see a single duck.” (Salinger, 200). The lagoon itself is symbolic of Holden’s longing for an eternal childhood, the frozen state representing a lack of change. The ducks represent the rest of society which Holden fails to assimilate with. Another symbol of this is the Museum of Natural History which Holden enjoys visiting, for similar reasons as the lake. He enjoyed going to the museum because “Nobody’d move.” and “nobody’d be different”. Holden visits this museum twice throughout the novel. The first time he walks through Central Park to the museum, but becomes too scared to enter, fearing something has
Open Document