Salinger, J.D. The Catcher In The Rye Essay

Holden Caulfield, the main character in J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher
in the Rye, is what I believe to be one of the most well-developed
characters which I have read about. He has many characteristics that are
all his own, such as the way he views the world, his friends and his
family. One of the main things that characterizes Holden, is that way
that he thinks the entire world is “phony.”
Holden’s view of the world as “phony” is a very strong one, and
in most cases, is correct. Holden thinks that the majority of the
people in the world are putting on some sort of an act to impress or
befriend people. In a way, Holden is probably correct in thinking that
most of the people he came in contact with are “phony,” such as his
roommate at Pencey, Ward Stradlater. In one instance, Holden refers to
Stradlater as a “secret slob.” He describes how Stradlater always tries
to be neat and tidy on the outside so as to impress people, but how he
is not when you get to know him. In the scene where Holden and
Stradlater are in the “can,” and Stradlater is getting ready for a date,
Holden describes Stradlater’s razor as “rusty as hell and full of lather
and hair and crap.”
Another of Holden’s run-ins with “phonies,” came to him while he
was in New York City. He was lonely and looking for someone to keep him
company, so he calls a girl named Faith Cavendish. He was told about
Faith by a friend of his who went to Princeton, Eddie Birdsell. When he
calls Faith, she has no desire to talk to him whatsoever, and she makes
that quite clear, until Holden drops the name of Eddie, and she
instantly perks up at the thought that Holden might be an important
person. She asks Holden where he’s calling from, and he replies “a phone
booth,” and he tells her that he has no money, and she then tells Holden
that she has no time. The wat that Faith changes her mind so quickly
when she finds that Holden has no money is a prime example of the
“phonies” Holden encounters.
Another general example of what Holden thinks is “phony” is actors. He
talks about how D.B. took Phoebe and him to see “Hamlet,” and he talks
about Sir Laurence Olivier, and how the play would have been good,
except that Olivier “knew he was good, and that spoils it.” Holden says
how he can’t go to a play and pay attention to what the actor is saying
because he “has to keep worrying about whether he’s going to do
something phony every minute.”
Holden has another incident with phonies when he invites Sally Hayes on
a date. Holden takes her to a play, which he considers phony as it is,
but then at intermission, Sally meets a man who she hasn’t seen for
years, and they began a big phony act. Holden says,
“You’ve though that they hadn’t seen each other for twenty years they
probably even hugged and kissed checks and all.” This is the kind of
behavior that Holden obviously never grew up with, isn’t used to, and
doesn’t like.

Through his experiences in New York City, and his many flings with
phony women, Holden grows to believe that everyone in phony in some way.
He thinks that the whole world is phony, and it’s not likely that
everyone in the world is corrupted or “phony,” so is it possible that
all the characters in the novel are all really normal and Holden is
really the only “phony” one?

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