Features of the Literature of the 1950s

In the aftermath of World War II, American society changed. Although many of these changes are caused by very different factors, a common element is preserved across time, art. People’s ideas and beliefs transform with time, and influence others through their art. Since the 1950s was a period of cultural Renaissance, works of literature that were created at the time influenced American society.

After WW2 ended, the United States was booming socially and economically. WW2 had a massive impact on the US.

Many Americans were eager to have children because they were confident that the future held nothing but peace and prosperity. As a result, what is known as the ‘baby boom’ started and around 4 million of babies were born. After the birth of so many infants, an intense period of mass production began in order to satisfy the high demand of goods needed, which boosted the economy tremendously. Unemployment rates decreased and wages raised due to the need of more jobs to keep up with the production.

With no doubt, the middle-class stabilized. Infrastructures were built like highways, schools and houses. Consequently, a suburban boom occurred. Following the war, many looked to have a safe and peaceful environment where they could start families. Suburbs became outstandingly popular, specially among former soldiers, since they received lower mortgages because of the G.I. Bill.

Along the social and economic boom of the 1950s, a cultural revival occurred. Various forms of 1950s popular culture, such as music, television, and movies, sought to entertain, while reinforcing values such as religious faith, patriotism, and conformity.

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For example, rock and roll, a new style of music which drew inspiration from African American blues music, embraced themes popular among teenagers, such as rebellion against authority and love. Artists like Elvis Presley created commotions within the younger generation due to their use of suggestive lyrics. Moreover, television flourished in the 19050s. As a result of the economic boom, television sales increased because now a good portion of American families were able to afford them. Several types of programs were broadcast on the handful of major networks: situation comedies, variety programs, game shows, soap operas, talk shows, medical dramas, adventure series, cartoons, and police procedures.

Television became a popular way to spend time with your family. Furthermore, movies became a significant part of America’s pop culture. After World War II, Hollywood encountered difficulties in adjusting to the new preferences of the public. To appeal to teens, studios produced large numbers of horror films and movies starring music idols such as Elvis. Audiences were drawn to movies not because of publicity, however, but because of the stories they told. Dramas and romantic comedies continued to be popular between adults.

On the other hand, there was a literary boom in the 1950s. During the 1950s, a sense of uniformity pervaded American society. But not all Americans conformed to such cultural norms. A number of writers, members of the so-called “beat generation”, rebelled against conventional values.

The Beat movement was short-lived, starting and ending in the 1950s, but had a lasting influence on American poetry during the contemporary period. Beat culture refers to the time period after the war in the 1950’s in which the youth was beginning to rebel, breaking away from the conformity expected of them by previous generations.

The ‘beats’ went out of their way to challenge the patterns of respectability and shock the rest of the culture.Their literary work displayed their sense of freedom.

During the 1950s, novels reflected an age of American history where cultural changes were beginning to take place in a post-war society.

A distinguished author from the 1950s was J.D. Salinger. Born on January 1, 1919, in New York, Salinger was one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. His parents were Sol Salinger, the son of a rabbi, and Miriam, Sol’s Scottish-born wife. He grew up in New York City, where he attended public schools and a military academy. After brief periods at New York and Columbia universities, he devoted himself entirely to writing. Even though his writing career was just starting, he drafted in the U.S. Army from 1942-46. After Salinger’s return from his service, his name and writing style became increasingly associated with The New Yorker magazine. His landmark novel, The Catcher in the Rye, set a new course for literature in post-WWII America and vaulted Salinger to the heights of literary fame. Salinger began this piece of literature while he was at war.r6.

Salinger’s most known work is the Catcher in the Rye. Sat around the 1950s, this novel recounts the story of 16-year old, New York native, Holden Caulfield on his search for his own identity. From Holden’s point of view, the Catcher in the Rye relates the events directly following his expulsion from prep school and his return to New York. All his life, Holden has moved from school, to school unable to handle the responsibilities of a teenager. Touching themes like education, family, friendship, love and romance, and sexuality, the Catcher in the Rye became extremely popular among adolescent readers. Though not technically considered a piece of Beat literature, it contains similar themes as well as an insight into the life of a teenager after the war. The novel also deals with complex issues of innocence, identity, belonging, loss, and connection.

Published in 1951, the Catcher in the Rye was with no doubt one of the most influential post WW2 books. The Catcher in the Rye is a symbol of youthful sensitivity and uncertainty.

Holden Caufield was the representation of every 1950s teenager. Although confused and disillusioned, Holden is an icon of teenage rebellion. The crisis of existence that Holden Caulfield faces is common to the experience of many young people trying to understand the sometimes terrifying transition from childhood to maturity.

Holden is a character that has been directly affected by the war as his older brother was a soldier and faced the horrors of World War II in person. This did not do well to facilitate Holden’s fear of abandonment, and since the war, Holden has distanced himself from his brother both physically and emotionally. The only member of his family, or anyone, is his younger sister, who is the only person in the novel to truly show a softer side to Holden.

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Features of the Literature of the 1950s. (2022, Apr 26). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/features-of-the-literature-of-the-1950s/

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