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Holden's Dislike of Phoniness

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Holden's Dislike of Phoniness In J.D. Salinger's novel, The Catcher in the Rye, the main character Holden Caulfield displays an obsessive dislike for "phonies," or superficial people. Holden can neither deal with the phoniness that masks humanity nor look at humanity straight on. In J.D. Salinger's novel, The Catcher in the Rye, I want to show how the main character Holden Caulfield displays an obsessive dislike for "phonies," or superficial people. Holden narrates of his adventures during a Christmas weekend. Although Holden is telling his story from a correctional facility in California, his actual story occurs mainly in New York. I would like to discuss, how, through his experiences, Holden is enlightened to the adult world. He continually mentions the "phonies" that he encounters, but we see that Holden is eventually drawn to the reality that innocence cannot be preserved forever. Holden's dislike of phonies is revealed by his reactions towards people at institutions, his peers, and entertainers and their accompanied fans. Furthermore, when we examine his relationships with older people representative of the college system, we see how Holden detests artificiality in these people. ...read more.


These instances all portray how Holden's reactions towards certain people indicate his compulsive disgust regarding those who are not genuine. Moreover, Holden also exhibits intense dislike towards his peers and friends. While Holden tries to preserve innocence, many of his equals are turning into adults, who embody phoniness. When Holden talks to an old girlfriend, Sally Hayes, and invites her to a matinee, he notices that she also uses the word "grand." Right away, Holden recalls that "if there's one word [he hates], it's grand" and that it is "so phony." (106) He recognizes that Sally is using the same speech he despises hearing in adults; only the chance for interaction prevents Holden from dismissing her. While Ackley is pestering Holden, Stradlater, Holden's roommate, appears and greets them. Although Stradlater is a friendly person, his response towards Ackley is "partly a phony kind of friendly." (26) Ackley and Stradlater are not fond of each other, so they do no act upon each other earnestly. Because of the distaste Holden reserves for his peers, audiences can distinguish that Holden finds the phoniness that has extended into his colleagues objectionable. ...read more.


To summarise; we see Holden's response towards people at private schools, his colleagues, and performers and their groupies show how he has an overanxious dislike of phonies. He goes to great lengths to expose the nature of "phonies" and uphold childhood innocence. Holden can neither deal with the phoniness that masks humanity nor look at humanity straight on, so audiences understand how disturbed he is. However, Holden realizes there is less to be gained in criticizing phonies than there is to be in saving innocence. Holden finds so many things artificial for many reasons. The term "phony" is used to characterize insincere people and their language. Phonies are more interested in playing a part or looking good than in being honest, so hypocrisy is revealed every time Holden mentions disingenuousness. Movies and performers irritate Holden because they include fake emotions and stereotypes and have ruined their art in their effort to entertain. Holden views private schools he has attended as being phony places, because they try to prepare students to become adequately phony to survive in the adult world. Holden's interactions with a few of the characters are drenched in phoniness, and paradoxically, Holden himself acquires a strained, sarcastic phoniness when telling jokes or being upset with someone. 894 words ...read more.

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