What Is Masculinity And Conformity In Catcher In The Rye

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The Catcher in the Rye: Questioning Masculinity and Sexuality in Society

During the post war society of the 1950’s in America, uniformity and conformity were a must. Although men and women were all required to do things during WWII, after the war men and women were put into traditional roles that were reaffirmed. Not accepting these roles would make one an outcast. Society has always had certain expectations for each gender. These expectations that are set for men and women pressure them to do things that they may not be ready for.
For most of history men and women have always played roles in society. With set expectations for men it has always been hard for those that stray from the path of manhood. With a very heterosexual society the 1950’s
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Salinger’s coming of age novel The Catcher in the Rye, he expresses the challenges a young person faces when entering, or refusing to enter, adulthood. Salinger uses the character of Holden Caulfield to challenge society’s expectations of men through his characters constant questioning of society’s norms. Holden wanders from the expectations set by society for men to be masculine by having feminine qualities. Expectations for what it means to be a man, pressure Holden to do things he is not ready for. Not only do expectations from society pressure Holden, but also his expectations that he has for himself affect what he does in the novel.
J.D Salinger questions the behavior of young men by making Holden refuse the usual things that society would say he should.It is very apparent that Holden cannot relate to the men around him. The characters in the novel that show the typical characteristics of men of the period. With Stradlater, Holden’s roommate, being the typical handsome teenage guy that takes girls in his to fool around with. Salinger uses this character to further show that Holden is not like the guys his age, perhaps proving that Holden does not have the same sexual drive as the guys around
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In his article "None of that David Copperfield crap: Clive Baldwin explores masculinity in The Catcher in the Rye," Clive Baldwin criticizes the ideal image of masculinity and how J.D. Salinger has created a novel that digresses from the typical "boy to man" narrative. Not only does Baldwin criticize the actions of Holden, but also the reason for which J.D. Salinger has written them. Baldwin questions whether the novel represents Salinger 's ideas about the measures of "real" masculinity. With what society and the media in the novel expect, Baldwin argues that is what makes Holden attempt to commit all these actions to be a man. Holden 's desire to become a "catcher" of young children aligns him further away from the contemporary expectations masculinity. According to Baldwin,"Caulfield 's digressive narrative approach and his ambition to occupy a maternal role as the 'catcher ' of young children aligns him with the feminine in a further subversion of contemporary expectations of masculinity." Baldwin 's point is that Holden, despite his efforts to be be a "man", fails to conform to the expectations set for masculinity. Baldwin 's claim that Holden 's ambition is a maternal role further shows his digression from traditional masculinity, but that is with the assumption that Holden still wanted to be meet the expectations of

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