When is Holden Caulfield "phony" himself in "The Catcher in the Rye" ?What are some examples of Holden being a phony and who does he think is a phony in the novel.

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literaturenerd's profile pic

literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Holden, from The Catcher in the Rye, constantly calls others phony. He sees people who are insecure, shallow, and too conventional as "phonies".  Holden also believes that actors are "phonies" given they "never act like people". Basically, Holden believes most all people are phony- aside from the nuns and Phoebe.

Holden, therefore, can be considered a phony.  He fails to act like a person at many times throughout the novel.  He ignores the fact that he has a mental issue.  He refuses to see any problem as one he created.  Holden cannot see what is happening to him and hides it with his excuses and own masking thoughts.  If Holden was to take a good look at himself, he would realize that he is not much different from the people he claims to be phony.

lourdes121809's profile pic

lourdes121809 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

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this is probably a little late but i think i can still help if you are having doubts.

Holden shows signs of being a phony himself when he lies to adults. For example, when he is in the train with Ernest Morrows mom, he tells her he is the janitor when in reality he is just a student from Pencey who gets kicked out. 


He thinks adults, actresses, actors, and some of his friends are phonies.

hope this helps! 

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