Essay, Research Paper
J.D. Salinger?s novel The Catcher in the Rye depicts life in the fifties as seen through the eyes of a disillusioned teenager. There is a vast difference between the life of a real 1950s family and that of a typical family portrayed through the television sitcoms of the day. The Catcher in the Rye is filled with examples that demonstrate how different real societies are.
In the fifties, quaint and perfect families dominated television home-life. The mother or ?house-wife? on television was always perfect. She would always don a housedress, frilly apron, and four-inch high heels, all this along with her perfect makeup and hair. You could always count on your TV mom to be up at the crack of dawn to make your breakfast. It would typically consist of eggs (sunny side up, of course), sausages, bacon, toast, orange juice and of course, the fresh, piping hot pot of coffee for TV dad (we?ll get to him later). She would always have the paper ready on the kitchen table for dad and the kids? ( we?ll get to them too) lunches would always be ready. When it came time for the children to go off to school, and dad to work, mom would always be waiting at the front door. She would give the children their lunches and a kiss on the cheek and give dad his briefcase, a peck on the lips and a fond wave goodbye.
Real life moms were never quite that perky. For instance, when Holden was on the train he bumped into Ernie Morrow?s mom. She had been to a party, alone no less, which was a no-no for TV mothers. ?She had these orchids on, like she?d just been to a big party or something.(70). She struck up a conversation with Holden and he proceeded to lie to her about her own son. Lying that much was not something you would have likely seen very often on TV in the fifties. Holden?s mother seemed to have a life outside of the home, too. ?They won?t be home till very late, mother said. They went to a party in Norwalk Connecticut.?(210) That indicates that she was in fact not home. Through the many episodes of ?Leave it to Beaver?, it is fair to say that the Cleavers never went to a late party in another state and left the Beav at home.
Television dads were very distinguished business people, with undisclosed professions. The TV dad would always be in his suit and tie at the kitchen table, coat and all. He always had the same briefcase and never brought anything to work that exceeded the load of his briefcase. When dad got home from work his idea of comfortable clothing was a dress shirt, dress slacks, tie and, of course, a sweater. With his evening paper in hand, he would light a pipe and prepare to deal with whatever?situation comedy problem? his children were experiencing.
In reality, fathers weren?t always the perfect businessmen. Though Holden?s dad was a well-established lawyer, Jane?s step dad was a drunk.?Her mother and father were divorced. Her mother was married again to some boozehound.?(42). Problems such as divorce and alcoholism were things that were never dealt with in fifties sitcoms.
The kids were perhaps (in the words of Holden Caufield) the phoniest in the genre of fifties television. The children on TV would go to school every day. They also got into ridiculously, mundane problems like not listening in class or sometimes a little more seriously: getting stuck in the cup of a coffee billboard sign. They always went to bed on time and played every sport perfectly.
During the fifties real children had more serious problems, like being kicked out of expensive prep schools. ?So you and Pencey are no longer one.?(237), indicates that Holden?s leaving Pencey seemed to be a big problem for him. ?Daddy?s gonna kill you.?(214) However, he just shrugged off his sister, Phoebe?s warning. Another thing uncommon among television kids was the idea of going out and getting drunk. ?G?night, G?night, Sally baby. Sally sweetheart, darling,? I said. Can you imagine how drunk I was.? Now, I haven?t seen every episode of ?Leave it to Beaver?, but I?m pretty confident that Wally never went out to NewYork late at night, got drunk, and called his ex-girlfriend. Although, I could be wrong.
As one can see the ?real?1950s and the ?TV? 1950s were very different; just as Holden?s life in the fifties was very different from the life of the Beav. Holden?s life was not perfect, his life was very difficult at times. Bad things happened to him, and unfortunately his mother was not perfect, she was human. There was a baby boom and Rock and Roll was born; War was raging in Korea and young men and women were going over to fight, some were never coming home. Veterans from World War II were home and trying to make a living for themselves and their families.