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 individuals 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 financial, political, or social privilege, looked as if it would own in its place very important cultural assets and a intensity of feeling now not present in "grey flannel" the United States.
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 half the 20 th century and explains how this remarkable shift replaced American tradition and society. Love for outsiders introduced the politics of either the hot Left and the recent correct. From the mid-sixties in the course of the eighties, it flourished within the hippie counterculture, the back-to-the-land flow, the Jesus humans stream, and between fundamentalist and Pentecostal Christians operating to put 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 solution to an intractable mid-century cultural and political conflict-the fight among the will for self-determination and autonomy and the need for a morally significant and actual existence.
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Extra resources for A Nation of Outsiders: How the White Middle Class Fell in Love with Rebellion in Postwar America
B. can hate the war and the army and yet love A Farewell to Arms, which Holden feels is full of phonies. Representations, poetry and novels and movies by and about people who were not there, can generate deep insight. 28 Waiting for Phoebe to leave school at lunch and meet him the next day, Holden unwinds a final film in his head. His vague plan is to escape out west and live in a cabin, and he imagines his return home at long last at the ripe old age of thirty-five. I knew my mother’d get nervous as hell and start to cry and beg me to stay home and not go back to my cabin, but I’d go anyway.
It was not just the household of the organization man. It was the home of the rebel. Most importantly, it gave white teenagers a window, however smudged, on black cultural expression. In the 1950s and 1960s, mass culture gave some young white Americans a glimpse of redemption. Rebels and outsiders were out there. Other possibilities existed. A novel or rock and roll song or a film could be a vehicle for expressing feelings of alienation, for thinking about a different kind of life. The fact that many outsider characters were male did not stop young white women from seeking alternatives too, although rebellion was always more dangerous for them.
A book called How to Survive an Atomic Bomb seriously advised people in danger to drop to the ground and shield their eyes and keep their heads. But these kids lived in a nation of growing prosperity and unchallenged economic power. Their parents and their president and the products for sale everywhere promised them a world free from the hardships adults had so recently endured. With a little preparation and the right stuff, they were told, even a nuclear holocaust would be easier to survive than the Great Depression.
A Nation of Outsiders: How the White Middle Class Fell in Love with Rebellion in Postwar America by Grace Elizabeth Hale