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The Phony Holden of Catcher in the Rye

J.D. Salinger writes about a young man who is very distraught after World War II. In Salinger's only published novel The Catcher in the Rye he talks about a young man who does not understand society and the surroundings he lives in. He keeps referring back to how everyone and everything around him is a phony. He makes himself seem unreliable by telling the reader that he lies openly.

In the novel Holden is what you would call an unreliable narrator. The definition of unreliable is - a person or thing that cannot be counted on or trusted. You cannot trust Holden if you know that he lies all the time. Since the reader knows that he is a habitual liar you may never know the difference from when he is telling the truth or when he is telling another one of his stories. Holden goes in and out of mental lapses throughout the novel that affected his mind and psychological state greatly.

Holden is an unreliable narrator for many reasons. Holden tells the reader that he lies all the time and sometimes does not even notice that he is lying. Holden does not see things beneath the surface. Finally he is not mentally stable and feels very insecure about many things.

Susan K. Mitchell's comments talk about how Holden is confused about the world and the people who are around him. He is an immature man who is still recovering from the effects the war had on him. He has also just failed out of school and so that has sent him into further depression. Holden sometimes contradicts his statements that he said earlier on and he doesn't realize it. "Holden is a man who does not practice what he teaches."(Mitchell 1) "You cannot believe what Holden says about his family after he has told you that he lies."(2) "Holden tells falsifications so often that he doesn't even realize whether he is lying or telling the truth."(2) Holden tells Sally he loves her, "It was a lie of course, but the thing is, I meant it when I said it."(2) "Since the book is told through the eyes of the narrator our observations are biased.
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