J.D. Salinger's novel Catcher in the Rye revolves around Holden's encounters with other people. He divides all people into two different categories, the "phonies" and the authentics. Holden refers to a "phony" as someone who discriminates against others, is a hypocrite, or has manifestations of conformity. A person's age, gender, and occupation, play a key role in how Holden interacts with them.
Holden shows a particular liking towards children over adults. He values the innocence and authenticity of children and he tries to protect them from the phoniness and evil of the world. When he goes back to his old school at the end of the novel to give a note to Phoebe, he sees an obscenity on the wall that infuriates him. He says, "Somebody'd written `F*** you' on the wall. It drove me near damn crazy. I thought how Phoebe and all the other little kids would see it, and then finally some dirty kid would tell them-all cockeyed, about it and maybe even worry about it for a couple of days. I kept wanting to kill whoever'd written it" (201). When Holden's sister Phoebe demands that he tell her one thing that he really likes, Holden's responds saying, "I like Allie...And I like doing what I'm doing right now. Sitting here with you, and talking and thinking about stuff..." (171), showing that he's most content in the simple and innocent world of his childhood.
Holden has a respect for women that he views as unnatural. He feels that his sexual desires should be similar to those of his roommate Stradlater and peer, Luce. Holden shows his confusion by saying, "The thing is, most of the time when you're coming close to doing it with a girl, a girl that isn't ...
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...c artistry to "phony" artistry, Holden lost respect and his opinion of his brother changed.
Holden divides people into the "phony" and authentic groups based on age, gender, and their occupations. The novel revolves around Holden's encounters and interactions with the people, which makes Holden decide subconsciously not to try to escape society through death. But, ultimately he learns that you cannot protect the innocent from the "phonies" of the world.
If You Really Want to Know: A "Catcher" Casebook. Ed. Malcolm M. Marsden. Chicago: Scott, Foresman, 1963. 68-73.
Crispell, Diane. "The Holden Syndrome." American Demographics. Aug. 2001.
Online. 7 June. 2003. Available http://www.marketingtools.com/Publications/AD/96_AD/9608_AD/9608AF01.htm
Salinger, J.D. The Catcher in the Rye. Boston: Little, Brown, 1991.
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