It is without question that certain periods of time have a profound impact with regards to the literature, art, thought, and pop culture that exists within them. As such, the period in time during which Salinger wrote The Catcher in the Rye disillusionment with war, fear of complete and total annihilation from the Soviet Union, and a reintegration with postmodern thinking created something of a nihilistic view of the way in which society was ordered and the purpose of life (Dumais 697). As such, the coming-of-age of the protagonist was ultimately predicated upon the worldview that was espoused within the novel. Rather than rationality, reason, and a high moral standard being and exemplification of the way in which an individual should live, Holden is instead left to meander through life; curious as to whether or not there is any purpose and if his own sexuality is something he should be fearful of, repress, or integrate with (Privitera 205). Naturally, these questions exist within the minds of any young individual that comes of age. However, the manner through which they are represented in the core issues that are discussed within Salinger’s novel help to point to the fact that the postmodern view of the world was very much and impressing factor with regards to the manner through which the character was represented and the decisions were formulated. Such an understanding should not be taken to mean that Salinger’s novel is merely a representation of postmodernism in its most basic form (Beidler 74). Rather, a more complete understanding would lend one to the understanding that Salinger relied upon the zeitgeist of the era as an inspiration for defining his characters.
Beidler, Peter G. “The Sources Of The Stekel Quotation In Salingers The Catcher In The Rye.” Anq 26.2 (2013): 71-75. Academic Search Complete. Web. 29 Jan. 2014.
Dumais Svogun, M. “Repetition, Reversal And The Nature Of The Self In Two Episodes Of J. D. Salinger’s Catcher In The Rye.”English Studies 90.6 (2009): 695-706. Academic Search Complete. Web. 29 Jan. 2014.
Privitera, Lisa. “Holdens Irony In Salingers The Catcher In The RYE.” Explicator 66.4 (2008): 203-206. Academic Search Complete. Web. 29 Jan. 2014.