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 individuals of the scholar 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 fiscal, political, or social privilege, looked as if it would own in its place very important cultural assets and a intensity of feeling now not present in "grey flannel" the USA.

In this wide-ranging and vividly written cultural background, Grace Elizabeth Hale sheds mild 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 remarkable shift replaced American tradition and society. Love for outsiders introduced the politics of either the hot Left and the hot correct. From the mid-sixties in the course of the eighties, it flourished within the hippie counterculture, the back-to-the-land circulate, the Jesus humans circulate, and between fundamentalist and Pentecostal Christians operating to put their conventional isolation and separatism as strengths. It replaced the very which means of "authenticity" and "community."

Ultimately, the romance of the outsider supplied an artistic answer to an intractable mid-century cultural and political conflict-the fight among the will for self-determination and autonomy and the will for a morally significant and real lifestyles.

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Additional resources for A Nation of Outsiders: How the White Middle Class Fell in Love with Rebellion in Postwar America

Example text

In Catcher, Holden’s old student advisor Carl Luce, with his preference for Eastern philosophy and his interest in sex as “both a physical and a spiritual experience,” takes up a bohemianstyle life and attempts to turn his existence into art. Holden had known Luce as an older student at the Whooten School, one of the places Holden went before Pencey. Luce had moved to the city after he graduated to study at Columbia. Holden did not like him much at school, but alone in the city, he called him up anyway.

5 Though the novel predates the invention of two new popular culture genres aimed at the same white middle-class youth market, Catcher, rock and roll music, and teenpics (films made for teenagers) all shared an oppositional stance toward conventions and norms imagined as central to American life. 6 It also helped that the adolescents in those homes lay on their twin beds flipping the radio dial and the pages of magazines looking for something different. No one used mass culture to resist mass culture better than middle-class white teenagers.

The connections Holden makes here occur outside the flow of his fictional life, at a remove, as he is representing it. 44 Lost Children of Plenty 33 If, as Holden believes, modern life alienates all sensitive, feeling people, then the answer, the only way to live, is to love other outsiders. Holden is lost. He never quite manages to find and connect with any other rebels, despite his New York City wanderings. But he finds them in his readers. And Catcher casts childhood as the space of innocence, free of the compromises and failures of adult life, as a place available to us all.

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