ADVANTAGES

In a 1951 New York Herald Tribune review of Catcher, Virgilia Peterson wrote that although Holden engaged in behavior that might have been considered questionable or rebellious at the time, such as using profanity, lying, drinking, lusting over women, engaging in physical violence and performing poorly in school, that he ultimately was a decent, respectable person with pure intentions in life. "But these [misbehaviors] are merely the devils that try him externally," Peterson wrote. "Inside, his spirit is intact" (Lomazoff). Peterson's review itself seems to express sentiments of the adult mainstream culture. Her statement about "the devils that try him externally" seems to imply that Holden's rejection of social norms has less to do with his frustration and disapproval of the entire framework of American society, and more to do with being a good kid simply being slightly misguided within that conformist framework. Holden had been treated as a rebel and a failure for a good portion of his life, but he functions under the mindset that the problem lies with society and their "phony" expectations for him, not in himself. He is not motivated to change because that would involve participating in a culture he did not agree with. It is this same sentiment that spoke to a generation in the 1950s that understood their shortcomings and their desire to not be perfect, yet still believed they were championing a good cause by rebelling against, or at least rejecting, what they viewed to be the detrimental conformist standards of their parents. This quickly becomes a case of the good us vs. the bad them.

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