The Catcher in the Rye Historical Context

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Postwar Prosperity

The events in The Catcher in the Rye take place in post-World War II America. Adults at this time had survived the Great Depression and the multiple horrors of the war. Paradoxically, the war that wounded and killed so many people was the same instrument that launched the nation into an era of seemingly unbounded prosperity. During the postwar years, the gross national product rose to $500 billion, compared with $200 billion in prewar 1940. In unprecedented numbers, people bought houses, television sets, second cars, washing machines, and other consumer goods. No wonder the nation wanted to forget the past and to celebrate its new beginnings. The celebration took the form of a new materialism and extreme conservatism. Traditional values were the norm. People did not want to hear from the Holden Caulfields and J. D. Salingers of the era. They were in a state of blissful denial.

Holden...

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This section contains 818 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Catcher in the Rye Study Guide
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The Catcher in the Rye from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.