The Catcher in the RyeIn Chapter 22, Holden asks "How would you know you weren't being a phony?" Why does Holden think this would be a problem for someone? Explain.

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kiwi's profile pic

kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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Holden is afraid of the point where the joy and innocence of childhood is lost, and the only way adults seem to be able to regain the freedom and happiness they once had is to fake it - be 'phony', in Holden's words. Holden's happy childhood seems to have ended with the death of his brother. Any attempts now to be happy seem 'phony', unless he is with Phoebe with whom he can be his real self. Holden realises that as Phoebe grows he will lose this connection. Both of them will slide into 'phoniness'. Hence his desire to be 'the catcher in the rye' and preserve the last of the innocents.

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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If a person is phony, he or she would not necessarily know it. Holden's fear is that all adults are phonies, and there is no one he can trust. He worries about children becoming adults, losing their innocence and becoming phony. He feels that most of us cannot help ourselves.