Catcher in the Rye essay
After reading “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D Salinger, it is clear that the main character, Holden is a “phony” himself and his negative attitude reveals his psychological problems. In the story, whenever Holden sees a person he doesn’t like that makes themselves out to be something they’re not, he calls them phonies. He strongly dislikes phonies and despises any type of interaction with them. Holden continues this negative attitude towards everything in his life revealing some of his issues and keeping him from growing up.
Holden encounters many phonies throughout his travels from boarding school to boarding school. He claims most of his “friends” to be phonies because of their lying but he has yet to realize that the biggest phony amongst them is staring at him in the mirror. On his train ride to New York, after being kicked out of Pencey, Holden meets the mother of one of his acquaintances from Pencey, Ernest Morrow. According to the story, ...view middle of the document...
Once Mrs. Morrow exits the train and Holden realizes how many lies he had told the woman, he says to himself “just to stop lying…once I get started, I can go on for hours if I feel like it.” (58) This quote explains how much of a compulsive liar Holden is. He claims to hate when people lie and are phonies yet he lies about the simplest things himself. He cannot comprehend that he is just as much of a phony as everyone he accuses. He needs to grow up and grasp the concept of telling the truth and maturing into the adult he claims to be.
Holden’s negative outlook on life goes way beyond his compulsive lying and hypocritical name calling. After Holden’s little brother died, he just went insane. The story states that when Holden was thirteen, “they were going to have my psychoanalyzed and all, because I broke all the windows in the garage. I don't blame them. I really don't. I slept in the garage the night he died, and I broke all the goddam windows with my fist, just for the hell of it. I even tried to break all the windows on the station wagon we had that summer, but my hand was already broken and everything by that time, and I couldn't do it”. (24) This quote explains why Holden is so crazy and has psychological issues. Ever since he brother died, Holden never was the same person. This tragic even in his life made him very angry and depressed, and no one ever properly helped him cope with the situation, so he never was able to get past it and mature into an adult, mentally he is still the same thirteen year old boy he was. He continued to be angry and depressed and eventually those feelings began to cloud his perception of the world, until he saw his life as just miserable. That’s when he began losing his mind and seeing only the bad in everything. This is what causes him to constantly lie and be a “phony”.
Holden’s phoniness and negative outlook on life come hand in hand. Holden compulsively lies because no one ever took the time to help him deal with his emotions and this caused a major setback on his maturity level and eventually drove him to insanity, where he is retelling this story from a mental hospital. In conclusion, it is clear that Holden is a “phony” himself and hiss negative attitude towards everything reveals his psychological problems.