Catcher in the rye
Catcher in the Rye Holden and His "Phony" Family
The protagonist, Holden Caulfield, interacts with many people throughout J.D.
Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye, but probably none have as much impact on
him as certain members of his immediate family. The ways Holden acts around or
reacts to the various members of his family give the reader a direct view of Holden’s
philosophy surrounding each member. How do Holden’s different opinions of his
family compare and do his views constitute enough merit to be deemed truth?
Holden makes reference to the word "phony" forty-four separate times throughout the
novel (Corbett 68-73). Each time he seems to be referring to the subject ...view middle of the document...
From the very first page of the novel, Holden begins to refer to his parents as distant
and generalizes both his father and mother frequently throughout his chronicle. One
example is: "…my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything
personal about them. They’re quite touchy about anything like that, especially my
father. They’re nice and all – I’m not saying that – but they’re also touchy as hell"
(Salinger 1). Holden’s father is a lawyer and therefore he considers him "phony"
because he views his father’s occupation unswervingly as a parallel of his father’s
personality. For example, when Holden is talking to Phoebe about what he wants to be
when he grows up, he cannot answer her question and proceeds to give her his opinion
about their father’s occupation..
‘Lawyers are all right, I guess – but it doesn’t appeal to me,’ I said. ‘I mean they’re all
right if they go around saving innocent guys’ lives all the time, and like that, but you
don’t do that kind of stuff if you’re a lawyer. All you do is make a lot of dough and
play golf and play bridge and buy cars and drink Martinis and look like a hot-shot. How
would you know you weren’t being a phony? The trouble is, you wouldn’t’ (Salinger
When Holden describes his mom, he always seems to do so with a sense of
compassion yet also with a jeering tone. Holden makes his mom sound predictable and
insincere. These phony qualities are shown in two different examples when Holden is
hiding in the closet of D.B.’s room as his mom walks in to tuck in Phoebe: