Salinger's 1951 novel, "The Catcher in the Rye", and John Hughes' 1987 teenage comedy film "Ferris Bueller's Day Off", each reflect the life of an American teenage boy; Holden Caulfield in the 1950's and Ferris Bueller in the 1980's. The two authors successfully convey society's values on materialism and education in the two different eras using language and a variety of techniques. These values have affected both Holden Caufield and Ferris Bueller, the former negatively and the latter positively, as will now be discussed.
Salinger was born in New York in 1919 and wrote "The Catcher in the Rye" in 1951. The values presented in the book reflect what was important in America at that time. A major value which society followed during that era was "life is a game that one plays according to the rules," and the concept of living up to that expectation influenced Salinger when he wrote this book. In the 1980's when Ferris Bueller's Day Off was set, the biggest value of society was materialism. This is evident with the recurring motif of cars, such as when Ferris says "I wanted a car. I got a computer." The value of materialism was from society's attitude where power, money and status was what everyone was trying to achieve.
Salinger presents the three day journey of the main character, Holden, and his attitude towards change in society. Holden is rather reluctant to growing up and becoming an adult because of his belief that the adult world was "phony" due to the presence of materialism. During Holden's short stay at Pencey Prep, he says that they always had the same meal on Saturday nights, steak and that they only reason why the school gave them steak was so that when the parents came to visit on Sunday and asked their son what they had for dinner last night, the answer would be steak. Holden found this act to be phony. Salinger's use of first person writing allows the readers to experience Holden's thoughts and actions.