A Nation of Outsiders: How the White Middle Class Fell in by Grace Elizabeth Hale

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 coed 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 financial, political, or social privilege, looked as if it would own as a substitute important cultural assets and a intensity of feeling no longer present in "grey flannel" the US.

In this wide-ranging and vividly written cultural heritage, Grace Elizabeth Hale sheds gentle on why such a lot of white middle-class americans selected to re-imagine themselves as outsiders within the moment 1/2 the 20 th century and explains how this unheard of shift replaced American tradition and society. Love for outsiders introduced the politics of either the hot Left and the recent correct. From the mid-sixties throughout 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 put their conventional isolation and separatism as strengths. It replaced the very that means of "authenticity" and "community."

Ultimately, the romance of the outsider supplied an inventive answer 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 real 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

Sample text

And Mr. Antolini tries to give him the answer he is seeking by quoting a psychoanalyst. But since Holden starts his story from “this crumby place” in California that is obviously a mental hospital, it is always clear that analysis is where Holden will end up. Telling the “madman stuff ” is part of Holden’s time on the couch. Freud the scientist is also Romantic in this sense—he too teaches individuals to read their own lives like a book or a film, to see their own experience as full of telling symbols and metaphors and moments that reveal the plot.

He has been expelled before, from Whooton and Elkton Hills. None of these places are public high schools. Holden is middle-class, upper-middle-class more precisely. His parents and his younger sister, Phoebe, live in a spacious if not elegant apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. His father, a lawyer, makes “dough” and Lost Children of Plenty 17 buys cars, plays golf and bridge, drinks martinis and misses school plays because of work. ” And Holden, despite his failures, expects to be successful too.

When suicidal despair later breaks through this fantasy, the fact that his death will not be neat like a movie keeps Holden alive until dawn.  . What a mob’d be there. 25 There are many of these movie-like scenes in Catcher, places where Holden confesses he is playacting his life and more subtle passages when he leaves his borrowed stories—the stock plots of a hundred pulp novels, cheap plays, and popular movies—for his readers to find. “If there’s one thing I hate, it’s the movies,” he tells us, even as he imitates them.

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