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Gordon Freeman
Posted: Tuesday, June 2, 2015 2:17:04 AM

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Hi,

It was all a lot of crap, naturally. He was a virgin if ever I saw one. I doubt if he ever even gave anybody a feel.

This is from "The Catcher in the Rye", when Holden sees through Ackley's account of his sexual escapades. For those who don't remember, Ackley is a lanky fellow, with bad teeth, achne all over his face and disgusting manners. Holden estimates the chance he has ever had sex as nonexistent. But what does he mean that Aclkey didn't ever give anyone a feel? That the idea to have consensual sex with him never so much as occured to any female human being, or that no girl ever liked him, or loved him, or just found him attractive?
thar
Posted: Tuesday, June 2, 2015 3:05:44 AM

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More basic than that. He had never 'felt up' a girl. Never even touched any part of a girl in any sexual way, let alone gone so far as to have full sex with one.

Look up "to cop a feel' for example.
http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/cop+a+feel

I have never read Mockingbird, but I have read Catcher (I was probably about fourteen). I found it self-indulgent, puerile and unengaging. There was a discussion about it on this forum, and it seemed to generate two extremes of opinion - 'life-altering literature' or 'overrated navel-gazing'. If I remember correctly, it was mainly Americans in the first camp, outsiders in the second. Interesting to see where you fall.

Edit
Oops - I didn't mean to put you off reading it, although I know that wouldn't. Looking at it, those are strong comments. But, of the books I had read - interesting, boring, frustrating, challenging, whatever - this was the first one I found really annoying!
Bareskin2000
Posted: Tuesday, June 2, 2015 3:52:57 AM

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The meaning in this context is to grope or squeeze another persons intimate sexual parts for example the buttocks, breasts, penis, testicles, vagina, etc.

There is another meaning which is to give someone a feel for a topic such as explaining the local history to give someone a feel for the area in which they are.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Tuesday, June 2, 2015 4:04:13 AM

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thar definitely has the right meaning for 'give a feel' - no doubt about that.

On the other subject, the disparity of opinions, I have the idea that it is more basic than even 'American vs. non-American'.

The 'moral' and 'life-changing' idea in the book seems to be the concept that strangers, loners, and foreigners are human too and can have positive characteristics.

Anyone brought up in a society in which each man is an island and has to defend himself against all comers as 'competitors' will find the concepts in the book surprising and life-changing.

Anyone brought up in a society in which strangers are accepted and 50% of the people who help him/her daily (nurses, doctors, bus drivers - anyone!) are 'foreigners' will not see anything special in it.
Ameeta
Posted: Tuesday, June 2, 2015 4:31:35 AM

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I thought 'to get a feel of things' meant to understand ...to experience ....
Romany
Posted: Tuesday, June 2, 2015 6:36:32 AM
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Ameeta - it does. See John Murray's answer above. It has two different meanings.
Guy from Arlington, VA
Posted: Tuesday, June 2, 2015 6:40:24 AM

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Ameeta wrote:
I thought 'to get a feel of things' meant to understand ...to experience ....


As I feel, you're absolutely right.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Tuesday, June 2, 2015 8:01:29 AM

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A quote from the Hippy days

"If it feels good, do it!




[image not available]


Gary98
Posted: Tuesday, June 2, 2015 2:18:46 PM

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Drag0nspeaker wrote:
thar definitely has the right meaning for 'give a feel' - no doubt about that.

On the other subject, the disparity of opinions, I have the idea that it is more basic than even 'American vs. non-American'.

The 'moral' and 'life-changing' idea in the book seems to be the concept that strangers, loners, and foreigners are human too and can have positive characteristics.

Anyone brought up in a society in which each man is an island and has to defend himself against all comers as 'competitors' will find the concepts in the book surprising and life-changing.

Anyone brought up in a society in which strangers are accepted and 50% of the people who help him/her daily (nurses, doctors, bus drivers - anyone!) are 'foreigners' will not see anything special in it.


Right to the point.
Gordon Freeman
Posted: Monday, June 8, 2015 8:33:02 AM

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Thanks!

There follows a funny scene further on in the book, when Holden sits in a pub or something and sees that couple behind the table next to him: a guy with a grave face tells his girl about some other guy who commited a suicide, while giving her a feel under the table.

It seems worth noting though that in this phrase the giving and receiving parties are somewhat misplaces, in my opinion. I'd rather expected it to work in the similar way as "give somebody a blowjob" does, pardon my French. So that the person who is given is the one who feels really good, not the person who gives. But here a guy touches and gropes and gets excited, and is the "giver" just the same.
Romany
Posted: Monday, June 8, 2015 9:06:04 AM
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In Aussie English and in most BE versions, the phrase is "to cop a feel". I have actually NEVER heard to "give" a feel.

Because you are quite right: to "give" someone a feel sounds as though the "giver" is doing something to please the other person.

Whereas, to "cop" something is to get something either illegally or immorally. So the person who does the "feeling" is snatching something immorally and clandestinely ("I copped a few pairs of Nikes off the back of a lorry.") or else the recipient is in receipt of something they DON'T want. This is the other meaning of "to cop": to be in receipt of something that isn't welcome ("I copped a right telling-off from my Mum.".

When a couple are consenting, and engaged in a relationship, what they do physically to each other is no-one else's business. But slimy little toads who go around copping feels are technically committing assault.

And thank the gods for that! When I was younger it was just considered "normal" that, every time one went out, some ill-mannered yobbo would consider it "fun" to cup one's bottom or brush against one's breasts etc. I am soooo glad times have changed since when your book was written!!
thar
Posted: Monday, June 8, 2015 2:17:13 PM

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'Give' does not have any connotation of it being a gift, or it being welcome. It is how you express interpersonal contact.
Gave him a nudge
Gave them a slap
Gave her a hug
Gave her a pinch
Gave him a kick.
Gave his hand a squeeze
It is really about what the person doing it does.

'To have a feel' is all about the experience of texture.

Eg
These pears are nice and ripe. Here, have a feel.
Are these cushions too rough? Give them a feel and tell me what you think.

Unless the 'feel' is sexual. That is the pun in old saucy jokes.
Romany
Posted: Monday, June 8, 2015 4:42:55 PM
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Yeah, Thar.

But we ARE talking about something sexual; and the 'give' we're talking about IS in relation to a sexual action. And because we, now, tend to think of sexual activity as a shared, not an imposed activity,'giving' sounds like a good thing.

That was what I meant.
Gordon Freeman
Posted: Tuesday, June 9, 2015 3:57:58 AM

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Hi, Romany -

I see you don't like that book too much. Well, I have read it, and I have to say that I do not too. I chose to read it because I remember how we read that scene about the baseball mitt, and it seemed sweet to me, and I always wanted to find out what was its title all about, and why this book invariably tops each and every literature curriculum in the English-speaking world.

Well, now I've read it. With "To kill a mockingbird" as a foil, which I'd finished just before I started reading this book. Well, it's nice in a way, and it surely has its merits, but for the life of me, I don't understand how it made its way in the school curricula at all, and how you people have come to let your children be exposed to so much dirt one finds in this book.

Yes, this book teaches good - that even freaks and perverts and all sorts of human trash are people and have to be treated as such, and that to have sex with a person you feel nothing to is probably not good. But children are not made that way. They are not likely to make that sort of moral conclusions on their own just reading about some people who come and go, and their lives, and their stories, and are not likely to embrace some general truths their teachers deduced for them and made them repeat several times as their role models.

What children need are people who they can look up to, somebody they would feel respect and admiration toward and want to be like them and act like them. There just have to be some really convincing and memorable main characters in a book, like Finches are, for example. And who do we have as a main character? A fellow who gets expelled from every school he gets to, a son of the well-off parents who wavers and wabbles all the time and doesn't know what to do with his life.

And besides, do children really need such topics raised for them? It reminds me of the new subject, something like Elementary Sexual Education, some wise people wanted to introduce in our schools for children aged nine-ten or something and older. I don't know if they did or didn't. The idea was to teach little girls how to administer contraceptives right, and little boys how to wear condoms like a pro.
Children from normal families didn't even have a notion about such things at that age in my day, let alone engaged in such sexual activities. Now they will. Sure, there've always been venereal diseases and abortions among children, but it always used to be just a fraction of the general population, at least in my country.

I think that such issues still need to be tackled in a careful and discreet fashion excusively within family confines by the people a child trusts and respects the most, not in the competitive environment of a classroom where everything's public and it's a trauma for a child to admit that they have less knowledge or experience in something than the others, by some young girl-teacher, who is by no means afraid to broach such sensitive issues with some other people's children.

Romany
Posted: Tuesday, June 9, 2015 5:52:05 AM
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Gordon -

Well, first off I, like you, didn't enjoy the book.

Second, however, let me reassure you that, by no means at all, does this book "top each and every literature curriculum in the English-speaking world." It may indeed do so in the United States - it is, after all, an American book. But it has never figured on any "required Reading" lists anywhere that I, at least, have lived, worked or studied.

It does, however, often come up in "Recommended Reading" lists. (The list of 30 or so books from different sources that the average student completely dismisses!). That's where I originally found it. (Yes, I'm one of those ridiculous creatures who ALWAYS reads the 'recommended' as well as the 'required' lists in any subject.) But 'recommended' books in Literature courses are chosen from all over the world to give some kind of insight to other cultures. NOT particularly because they are "good" or "inspiring" or contain lessons to be emulated. But because they help us to understand other cultures.

As to the content? Well The Catcher made little or no impression on me - perhaps because of what Drago said in his post? I simply remember it being extremely boring, and it had nothing I could equate to (Unlike Mocking Bird!) so I retain very little of it.

However, remember that it would only (well, I imagine so) be "required" reading in American HIGH Schools. The kids reading it would be around 14 and up. And 14 is the average age nowadays when kids lose their virginity and start experimenting with sex themselves. So there is no equating it to 10 year olds learning to use condoms, I think.

And, unlike older people, many kids to-day are brought up with TV as their "Nanny". Most (remember, we're talking English-speaking countries here) have their own computers too. Millions of kids, all over the world, have been exposed continuously to sexual matters since they were babies: - even cartoon characters in many of the Disney epics are sexualised beings. I think the idea of discussing sexual matters in the formal atmosphere of a school is part of a move to get them to make sense out of all they have seen and heard...and all they have NOT heard...that sex can also be dangerous and that one must have a sense of responsibility about it. And that it carries consequences such as unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases etc.

So: having no idea how The Catcher is presented by teachers, nor what lessons they tease from it to inspire students...because it's a whole other culture (and one I imperfectly understand) with different mores and imperatives...I can't comment on its suitability as "Required" reading in America. My reasons for suggesting "Classic" literature to students is to inspire - both with exceptional use of language and with skillfully presented themes which are universal. Obviously, within the culture from which the book sprang, it fits that bill.

So I'm not sure that questions of suitability from those of us from other cultural backgrounds, who haven't experienced American life, have too much relevance? I'm not saying we don't have a right to say what we want...I just doubt we are in a position to judge?

Perhaps some American posters who ARE inspired by The Catcher could give their opinions?

ps. I didn't find out what your eventual thoughts on Mockingbird were? And did it give you insights into the kind of PAST American culture which is the background of MODERN American culture? (If you can even understand that poorly worded question?)
Hope123
Posted: Tuesday, June 9, 2015 11:37:05 AM

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Gordon,

I remember the title, but not the book, from required (not recommended) reading of about fifty books in Abnormal Psychology second year university way back in the Dark Ages. (It must have been boring if I can't even tell you the plot. There was another book we had to read too - I would recognize the title if I saw it - and all I remember was that there was a lot of foul language.)

You have made me curious as to whether or not it is on any educational list these days. I doubt it would be for elementary kids here, probably not even high school.

Our provincial government is trying to update the sex ed curriculum here. Many parents are keeping their kids out of school in protest. However, the Toronto Star compared the actual curriculum with what the fear mongerers have exaggerated to the parents and there is no connection between the two.

I too think children need good role models and we don't give them many these days with our Justin Biebers etc.

What little I learned about sex - I was about ten - came from a book I used to sneek in to read that my mother kept in her cedar chest. It was called 'An Encyclopedia of Sexual Knowledge'. At least I got to see proper diagrams and the names of body parts. I did have the advantage of being brought up on a farm so watching the animals told us that sex was just a natural part of life. Incidental learning as we grew up. But it was never discussed formally in my family. I learned about the female clitoris when I was 19 during a Psychology introductory course at university. Best bit of knowledge ever. :)

How many parents even these days feel comfortable about talking about sex with their kids? I understand (could be wrong) that a lot of ten year olds over the world have already had or given oral sex nowadays.

::
Dragon, as usual - right on your point!
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Tuesday, June 9, 2015 12:11:24 PM

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As I only had daughters, I left all that 'birds and bees' stuff to my wife - however, I do know how it all went.

It was in the short period when the older one was twelve and the younger one eleven. They had had some 'elementary sex education' at school already.

My wife told me that the 'strange ideas', 'false data' and general 'idiocy' they had was from their misunderstood ideas of what they had been told in school.

They already knew most of the general facts, along with warnings of the dangers, from older girls' talk. This was all pretty straightforward and correct.

**************
I have never heard of either of these books being advised for children to read in the UK - the first time I heard of them was the 'raving' of someone saying how important and vital it was that everyone read them - I have found that I never enjoy any book which has been described like that.
FounDit
Posted: Tuesday, June 9, 2015 12:38:30 PM

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Gordon,

I came across Catcher in the Rye about ten years after it was published. I don’t remember much of it, but I read it, and was spectacularly unimpressed with it. It had a kind of taboo about it that gave it a word of mouth reputation among us young people at the time. To understand that, you have to have some idea of what our culture was like at that time – the 1950’s and early 60’s. Whole books could be written on this, and this is just a brief overview of some of my experiences during this time, and so is just my personal opinion .

We had just come out of the Great Depression, WWII, and the war in Korea was in its infancy when the book was published. Over that decade, a great ideological war was being waged between Free Market Capitalism of the West, and Communism, especially as represented by the Soviet Union, with Russia as its head. J. Edgar Hoover’s book Masters of Deceit, aimed at your country of Russia, and its Communist leaders, was almost required reading in many schools by the early 60’s.

Many saw the Great Depression and the following wars as a great battle between Good and Evil. We, of course, were the good, and Communism was the Evil. The churches had been gaining in cultural influence throughout all of this time, with some implying that the Great Depression was punishment for the lasciviousness of the Roaring Twenties, and the rise of criminal gangs, known as the Mafia, in our larger cities.

This time period, the 1950’s, also saw the rise of many Christian evangelists, primarily Billy Graham and his crusades. Television helped spread this influence over the behavior of our society and politics. With religion holding such powerful influence over our society, much information concerning sex was not spoken of. In fact, our society was held in a very tight grip of ultra-conservative thought and behavior. Whites were the dominant race, and blacks and Hispanics were supposed to “know their place”; that is, be respectful of, and obedient to, that fact.

Life had the appearance of being very “proper”. There were strict rules of behavior. As with all things human, this had a positive influence, and a negative influence. There was a hidden level of thought and behavior that was kept secret as much as possible, so as to maintain the appearance of the “best” society.

Sex was, of course, one of those things kept hidden away, learned by accident most of the time, and was most often completely wrong or only half accurate in the information learned. At puberty, most boys tried to learn as much as they could because they were being driven by testosterone to do so, but access was restricted. It was at that time Catcher in the Rye was published. Because it dealt publicly (in book form anyone could read) with the subject of sex, it was considered “trash”, and banned in some locations. This, of course, had the effect of raising it to the level of required reading for many young people. It was followed by more books dealing with that topic. The grip of ultra-conservatism was inexorably having its grip pried loose from the throat of the people. It was the Liberal philosophy that spoke of it as an important and vital book to read.

In the 1960’s the dam of Conservatism broke, and Liberalism spilled forth in a mighty rush that has resulted in what we see today. As before, it has had results both positive and negative. With all political movements, however, they over-reach, and are undone by their own excesses. Today, the grip of ultra-Liberalism is having its fingers pried loose from the throat of the public, and society will swing back to Conservatism once again. And once again, they, too, will take it to an extreme. This cycle goes on in every country in similar fashion.

Edit: I should point out that Conservatives today see Liberalism as having become Ultra-Liberalism; the mirror image of the past. One example of this is the Political Correctness that many think has run amok in today's society, truncating rational debate.

tunaafi
Posted: Tuesday, June 9, 2015 12:43:48 PM

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I have never understood the problems with sec education at school. Sexual reproduction is part of life (if it weren't we wouldn't be here!) As such, it is rather more important for young people at school to learn about it than it is to learn about William the Conqueror or Ode to
a Grecian Urn
. It is also pretty important for them to learn about the problems associated with unwanted pregnancies and the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases.

My wife and I never sat down to talk about the 'facts of life' with our offspring. We simply honestly answered their questions whenever they asked them - which was rather earlier in their lives than we (given our own rather inhibited parents)had expected. However, we felt that if the questions were there, the answers needed to be. My memory is that we were at least a couple of years ahead of the school with the transmission of information, which means that had we not given them the information they sought, then they would have picked up some very dubious information from more 'knowledgeable' friends at school.

From personal experience as a teacher and parent, I know that there are still some parents who are shy about passing on this information - with the result that, if the schools did not teach children about sex, then some would be in the position of a friend of my wife's. In 1968 (the swinging sixties!) the very red-faced mother of this friend, by then 22, said to her on the night before her wedding day, "Well, I expect with what's in the magazines these days you don't need me to tell you what's going to happen to you tomorrow. I'll just say that, if you don't want a baby, get up as soon as he's finished and go and have a pee".

The moral issue is something different. It is for parents, not teachers, to give their opinions on whether such things as sex outside marriage and the use of contraception are 'grave sins'. However, teaching that the use of a condom is a remarkably good protection against sexually transmitted diseases is a simple fact; as such, it is the duty of a teacher to pass that fact on, in my opinion.

As others have noted, here and elsewhere, despite what some parents like to believe, some very young children, at least in the western world, have acquired some information or misinformation about sex long before their parents or teachers tell them. If parents can't, or won't, give their children accurate information, then schools should.

Hope123
Posted: Tuesday, June 9, 2015 1:10:07 PM

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Fd, thanks for reminding us and giving us background on the time period 'The Catcher in the Rye' was written. I agree with political correctness running amok, and common sense being left in the dust these days.

(Digression re common sense - A Human Rights commission in Alberta, Canada, just gave two students $26,000 in compensation from a non denominational school, Webber Academy because the two students (I am not mentioning the religion as it shouldn't matter) have damages from not being allowed to pray there! Canadians are understandably perturbed. Please note the boldface. The Academy is appealing.)

Gordon, I hope you got the answer to 'give a feel' - along with a lot of extra background for 'Catcher in the Rye'.
Romany
Posted: Tuesday, June 9, 2015 2:30:14 PM
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My parents were like you and your wife, Tuna...and also my mother bred dogs and horses. I don't remember any time when I ever felt uncomfortable talking about stuff with my parents - but maybe that's because I was an only child? Who else was there, given that we moved a lot. I've asked my own kids if they, in turn can remember any embarrassing questions/answers and they couldn't either.

Mind you, my mother, (she'd been in her forties when I was born) had trained in the old days of sepsis and disease - and pre-penicillin.) I gained a pretty thorough background in the dangers of sex - right through to the birthing process from the dogs. Plus, she always spoke in medical terms so I can't say I was too impressed with the whole business as I saw it.

But I remember, vividly, how weird it felt to get called up by the girl I felt was the most glamourous, adult, cool chick in town. I was 15 at the time, and fairly new in town: this girl was WHO I wanted to be. She was worldly.

Anyway, out of the blue, she had called me up to ask me about how one "really" got pregnant, and was it true what they said about toilet seats? Me??? I was 15 years old, locked away in a damn convent for most of the year, and and only let one boy kiss me for the first time a couple of weeks ago! While she and her crowd drove around in sports cars, laughing lustily and at it like rabbits at every opportunity! I was flabbergasted...and I burst out laughing after I'd put the phone down.

But when I'd asked her why? Why had she called me up and not her mates, she'd told me her mates wanted to know too.

And why had she thought I would know? She said it was because she went to a State (i.e. Government) school! While private schools could - and did - teach Sex-Ed, State Schools were then not able to.

I've remembered that stark illustration ever since: that only those who paid for it got educated about how to avoid a lifetime of endless pregnancies, or getting ill!! I thought then, and I still think now, that was one of the most iniquitous behaviours towards women that I'd ever heard of.

So yes, I think it's time to educate the public on exactly HOW it's being handled in classrooms. I only know about my area and I think it's admirable. Kids are only given as little as they need to satisfy what is usually only idle curiosity anyway when they are very young. But most of all, what I have seen being taught is more about attitudes: respect, treating each other like human beings...it's certainly something I support staunchly.
Hope123
Posted: Tuesday, June 9, 2015 3:03:15 PM

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(Typo - sneak. lol)
rogermue
Posted: Tuesday, June 9, 2015 3:58:03 PM

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Very impressive what you have just told, Romany.
leonAzul
Posted: Tuesday, June 9, 2015 7:12:58 PM

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CITR is noteworthy for the way it captures a particular moment in the transition from adolescence to adulthood of its protagonist, Holden Caufield, set in the years immediately after the end of WWII.

It is also a thinly veiled allegory for the transformation of American society at the same time, his sister (which he wishes to protect in his dream) representing the pre-war innocence that had been lost.

Romany
Posted: Thursday, June 11, 2015 6:33:05 AM
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Ah - now we're getting somewhere in deconstructing this book, thanks to Foundit and Leon's posts. I understand now why the book is regarded as 'classic' in the USA and kinda "Meh!" outside of it. It was, after all, written for an American audience.

Leon's explanation about the 'pre-war innocence" lost, and the transformation of American society at the time explains why the cultural underpinnings OF THAT TIME get kinda lost in translation.

The 4 years of WWI were when we - outside of America - lost our innocence. The American forces were only involved in that one for a matter of months and their country was largely unaffected. But it was The Great War which led to the transformation in British and European society. The class-system broke down; women were allowed(!) to work, to vote and to attend University (even though they couldn't actually gain academic titles); old, mannered ideas of warfare were left behind; and technology (albeit, to us, rather primitive technology) produced horrors no-one had ever envisaged before. Ihe post-WWI youth became The Lost Generation.

But post WWII things were different again. Except for America, most countries in the world (including tiny little Pacific ones which a lot of people had never even known existed) were devastated after 6 years of high-tech (then) warfare. Including mass genocide on a scale hitherto unknown. Right until the 60's rationing was still in place, and people's main concerns were re-building infra-structures and homes; trying to find loved ones; bringing about justice; trying to build up farms and stock; and dealing with the after-effects of a war in which civillian populations were targeted in their homes - so soldiers who survived four years of horror were coming home to find entire families - and the homes they had lived in - wiped from the surface of the earth. This gave rise to The Angry Generation which included all those writers labelled the Angry Young Men school. Our literature became very forceful and hard-hitting...and angry.

So Catcher was a reflection of an alien world, for people still concerned with making the world work again.

However, now that Foundit and Leon have provided a context, I'm determined to get hold of a copy and read it again, in the light of their comments. And not with the cultural underpinnings I must have taken to the book when I first read it.

Thanks guys.
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