Phoniness In Catcher In The Rye Essay Help

Holden Caulfield of The Catcher in the Rye is critical of many things and nearly everyone with whom he has contact, including himself. However, he dearly loves his little sister, Phoebe, as well as his deceased brother, Allie.

The phoniness of others

Pencey Preparatory School, where Holden has been expelled, has advertised the school as having a polo team, but Holden states he has seen no horses there. In the advertisements, there is a line that reads, "Since 1888 we have been molding boys into splendid and clear-thinking young men." Holden contends that the school does no more "molding" than any other school. Indeed, Holden, Stradlater, and Ackley do not seem to meet the standard promised by the school's advertising (Ch. 1).

Holden's brother D. B. was once an original writer, but Holden considers him a phony since he has gone to Hollywood, where he is "being a prostitute." That is, he has sacrificed his artistic talents for writing screenplays (Ch. 1).

Holden's roommate, Stradlater, seems to look neat, but Holden declares he is "a secret slob." Holden says Stradlater "looked all right," but his razor was rusty with hairs and "crap" on it. Also, Stradlater has Holden write an essay for him and plans to turn it in as his (Ch. 4).

A classmate named Ernest Morrow is described by his mother as "a very sensitive boy." However, Holden comments, "That guy Morrow was about as sensitive as a —— toilet seat" (Ch. 8).

Holden's phoniness

Holden confesses to the reader that he is "the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life" (Ch. 3).

He complains about Ackley's being in his room too long, but he stays in Ackley's room and sleeps for hours in his roommate's bed (Ch. 7).

Holden praises some of the faculty although he has earlier criticized them. He calls them phonies because they "act like" teachers, meaning their demeanor is different in the classroom than when they engage in a private conversation (e.g., Mr. Spencer). 

Holden's phoniness (continued)

When Holden meets Ernest Morrow's mother, Holden falsifies his name, telling her he is Rudolf Schmidt, the name of the school's janitor. After Mrs. Morrow says that Ernest loves the school, Holden praises her son, even though he regards Ernest with disdain:

Then I started shooting the crap around a little bit... "He adapts himself very well to things. He really does. I mean he really knows how to adapt himself." (Ch.8)

However, earlier in Chapter 7, Holden describes Eric in derogatory terms, calling him "the biggest bastard that ever went to Pencey."

As the conversation continues, Holden tells Mrs. Morrow that he is on the train home because he must have an operation for a brain tumor. Then, when Mrs. Morrow invites him to visit, Holden says he is going to South America with his grandmother. (Ch.8)

In another aspect of his life, Holden is also hypocritical. He is upset with Stradlater for his cheap sexual exploits, believing that people should not engage in sexual activity unless they care for each other deeply and have respect for one another. However, he tries hard to lose his virginity, even agreeing at a hotel to pay for a prostitute. Yet he also claims to value innocence.

The Phony Theme of The Catcher In The Rye Essay example

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The Phony Theme of The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger

In life there comes a time when everyone thinks that they are surrounded by phoniness. This often happens during the teen years when the person is trying to find a sense of direction. Holden Caulfield, a 16-year-old teen-ager is trying to find his sense of direction in J.D. Salinger's, "The Catcher In The Rye." Holden has recently been expelled from Pency Prep for failing four out of his five classes. He decides to start his Christmas recess early and head out to New York. While in New York Holden faces new experiences, tough times and a world of "phony." Holden is surrounded by phoniness because that is the word he uses to identify everything in the world that…show more content…

Holden hates those magazines that the steward sells on the train. Holden cites, "I can usually even read one of those dumb stories in a magazine without puking. You know. One of those stories with a lot of phony, lean-jawed guys named David in it, and a lot of phony girls named Linda or Marcia that are always lighting all the goddam Davids' pipes for them" (53). Holden cannot stand that all the stupid same old stories. The ones where there is always a hero and saves someone that is in trouble. After that Holden felt a little down so he decided to pass the time. Holden knows this girl named Sally Hayes. They used to send a lot of time together when they were younger. Holden is bored and decides to give her a call. He calls her and her father answers and then gives the phone to Sally. Sally Hayes picked up the phone and asks, "yes--who is this?" Holden goes on to state, "she was quite a little phony. I'd already told her father who it was" (106). Holden cannot believe that she knows who is calling but asks for no reason. Sally is just trying to play a stupid game that Holden would rather not want to play at any time.

Since Holden got kicked out of Ossenburger hall because he is failing four out of his five classes, he cannot go home until Christmas break starts. He wonders into New York for a couple of days to hang out. Holden decides to go to a bar a get drunk to pass the time. Well, he does find

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