The Young Folks


 

Salinger was just 21 years old when he published his very first story, The Young Folks, a critical portrayal of a shallow college party. It was published in 1940 in Story, a small but reputable literary magazine that new authors turned to after being rejected by the likes of The New Yorker or Collier’s.
 
Salinger opens the story throwing poetic jabs at his characters, who are mingling with highballs and cigarettes in hand. Salinger describes Edna Phillips sitting in a big red chair, “wearing a very bright eye which young men were not bothering to catch.” Lucille Henderson “sighed as heavily as her dress would allow, and then, knitting what there was of her eyebrows, gazed about the room…” Salinger clearly does not think highly of this crowd, which he repeatedly points out includes a “small blonde” and “three young men from Rutgers.
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