The catcher in the Rye is a typical novel which reflects the confusion and rebel of the 1950s in America history. From year 1945-1955, the American society seemed to be blissful on the surface while the fear of uncertainty caused by the growing communist challenge was affecting the culture of society. People became paranoiac and youngsters of the time became rebel or even violent resulting from the lost of aim and belief. Holton, the main character of this novel, is portrayed by the author as a typical teenager of the time.
Born in a wealthy middle class family, Holton was supposed to live a good life. However, he expelled from school four times, not dare to go home, wandering alone in York city one day and two nights, living in small inn, going to nightclubs, being alcoholism. He wanted to escape from the real world because he feel depressed, confused, filled with all sorts of unrealistic fantasies. This novel can be defined as both the tragedy of Holton's and the author Salinger, who is a young people of that generation.
In 1950, the Korean War started, which was an extension of the Cold War which strengthened the hostilities and conflicts between America and the Soviet Union. It definitely leaded to the panic of normal people because they were uncertain about the result of the competition between the superpowers. Teenagers were emotionally confused of the changing society, doubting their life and their future. Salinger has also written other novels such as Nine Stories, a collection of short stories even more depressed than The catcher in the Rye, which at least have expressed some hope at the end of the novel. Actually, characters like Holton become popular at that time, not in literature only. In the film Rebel Without a Cause describe a very similar situation, the tendency of rebel and violence among youngsters in American culture at that time. In the early 1950s, the accumulation of emotions and conflicts were bedding the transform a few years later, which had significant influence on American culture of that period.