By Grace Elizabeth Hale
At mid-century, americans 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 determine with those that, whereas missing financial, political, or social privilege, looked as if it would own in its place important cultural assets and a intensity of feeling no longer present in "grey flannel" the United States.
In this wide-ranging and vividly written cultural historical past, 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 half the 20th century and explains how this unheard of shift replaced American tradition and society. Love for outsiders introduced the politics of either the recent Left and the recent correct. From the mid-sixties during 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 which means of "authenticity" and "community."
Ultimately, the romance of the outsider supplied an inventive solution 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 actual existence.
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Extra resources for A Nation of Outsiders: How the White Middle Class Fell in Love with Rebellion in Postwar America
Antolini. And poetry has not saved Allie or even D. , who is also in his own way dead, abusing his talent for cash in Hollywood. 37 Catcher finds even less to use in the Marxist understanding of alienation as the separation of a person’s work from her sense of self. Writing during the postwar Red Scare, Salinger creates a fictional landscape in which there is no ideological left. Alienation exists, but it is not a political and economic problem. Unlike some of the Beat poets, who were then already living their soon to be infamous vision of cultural rebellion, the fictional Holden does not even gesture in the direction of radical politics.
Mills’s White Collar, a sociological investigation of contemporary middle-class life, and Catcher, both begun before the war, worried over for a decade, and published in the same year, have more than a little in common despite differences of genre and tone. ”10 In Holden’s teenage idiom, Salinger actually employs a more accessible language for making this point, “the great refusal,” than Mills’s own sociological abstractions. When Phoebe asks her big brother to name something he likes, something he would like to be, and suggests a lawyer, he replies, “Lawyers are all right, I guess—but it doesn’t appeal to me.
He cannot find the lagoon, even though he has been going there all his life. At last he sees the water: “What it was, it was partly frozen and partly not frozen. But I didn’t see any ducks around. 34 Over the course of the nineteenth century, the Romantic poets’ interest in nature and peasant life, in anything outside of respectable society, became 28 Learning to Love Outsiders bohemian painters’ interest in art, urban workers, and the East, in anything outside middle-class life. As the historian Jerrold Seigel has argued, “bohemia” originated in mid-nineteenth-century France, in Paris, along with the bourgeoisie way of life it opposed.