By Grace Elizabeth Hale

At mid-century, american citizens 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 fiscal, 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 US.

In this wide-ranging and vividly written cultural heritage, Grace Elizabeth Hale sheds mild on why such a lot of white middle-class american citizens selected to re-imagine themselves as outsiders within the moment 1/2 the 20 th century and explains how this remarkable shift replaced American tradition and society. Love for outsiders introduced the politics of either the recent Left and the hot correct. From the mid-sixties in the course of the eighties, it flourished within the hippie counterculture, the back-to-the-land stream, the Jesus humans move, and between fundamentalist and Pentecostal Christians operating to place 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 answer 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 lifestyles.

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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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Old Spencer tells him that life is a game and a person has to play by the rules. Holden’s adventures, his explorations of the margins of middle-class propriety, never change his answer: “Game my ass. Some game. If you get on the side where all the hot-shots are, then it’s a game, all right—I admit that. But if you get on the other side, where there aren’t any hot-shots, then what’s a game about it. Nothing. 17 But the game that Holden cannot see the point of playing here is not just adulthood. It is adult manhood.

Like Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, published in 1884, Catcher is a radical portrayal of disillusionment with America disguised by its author as a tale of childhood adventure. Critics and scholars have remarked on the connections between the two coming-of-age novels with their white boy protagonists since soon after Catcher was published. ” as he leaves Pencey Prep. Their upthrust fingers in the faces of their worlds, their attacks on what their societies most value—slave property and a secure, upper-middle-class future—in both cases, rebellion preserves the boys’ innocence and dramatizes their refusal to conform, to accept the compromises adults make with their respective societies.

Members of the New York School, an increasingly powerful group of mainly former leftists associated in the postwar period with the magazines Partisan Review, Commentary, and Dissent, avoided discussion of who controlled production 36 Learning to Love Outsiders and the unequal distribution of these other goods, the critique offered by the left during the 1930s and early 1940s. They also avoided judging these products in the traditional moral terms embraced by conservatives, which would have required excluding abstract painting, experimental fiction, and other modernist and avant-garde experimentations.

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