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

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 participants 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 monetary, 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 United States.

In this wide-ranging and vividly written cultural historical past, Grace Elizabeth Hale sheds gentle on why such a lot of white middle-class american citizens selected to re-imagine themselves as outsiders within the moment 1/2 the 20th 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 recent correct. From the mid-sixties during the eighties, it flourished within the hippie counterculture, the back-to-the-land flow, the Jesus humans flow, and between fundamentalist and Pentecostal Christians operating to place 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 artistic answer to an intractable mid-century cultural and political conflict-the fight among the need 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

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The entire novel is Holden’s own psychoanalytic reading, a fact that the self-conscious movie scenes make clear. Lost Children of Plenty 31 Art, then, is not the answer in Mr. Antolini’s Romantic sense, but art, or more democratically self-expression, enables a person to shape the meaning of her life in a way that suicide, a solitary act of refusal, cannot. In front of an audience, self-expression becomes a larger, less individual and more social act. Salinger turns existentialism’s emphasis on action, its acts of refusal, into the act of representing acts of refusal, into autobiography.

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.  . ” But Holden has stepped into a mess. Even more than the white kids, upper-middle-class white adults are supposed to be happy.

31 As a young Cambridge student, Wordsworth discovered that his own experiences and emotions were a rich source for his poetry. But the revelation of personal experience was too radical to embrace directly. Instead, he explored as a kind of proxy what he imagined to be the feelings and experiences of the rural people he observed all around him. Wordsworth and Coleridge collaborated on a volume of poems, published as Lyrical Ballads, about these people on the margins—children and the elderly, miners and peddlers, the mad and others outside the boundaries of polite society.

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