In "The Catcher in the Rye", how is Holden being a hypocrite?what are some stuff he says that make him one

Expert Answers
pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Holden accuses everyone of being a phony, particularly adults, who he finds impossible to understand, which makes him even more terrified to become one.  As Holden attempts to hold onto his childhood, struggling to deal with depression, grief and his continual failures in school after school, he is able to see everyone else's flaws, but not his own.

Holden critizies his parents for their phony lifestyle, the same lifestyle that provides for him to go to one fancy school after another.  He has no respect for the financial support that he receives from his parents and particularly for his grandmother, who he says sends him birthday money four times a year.  He thinks that she is senile of something, instead of recognizing that she is being kind to him, wanting to help him by sending him money.

At the same time he is criticizing adults for making money and being phony and false in their lives in order to earn a living, he puts the money his grandmother send him into his pocket.  If it were not for that money, he would not have been able to leave Pencey Prep on his own. 

Holden looks at his roommate, Stradlater and finds fault with his messy toiletries, Holden says that Stradlater is a secret slob, going out looking all spiffy, while not taking care of his stuff in the dorm room.    Holden is simply envious of Stradlater for his popularity, especially when he dates Jane Gallagher, a girl Holden holds on a pedestal as if she were some marble statue instead of a real girl.  Although he says that he cares for her, he never calls her and then get mad when Stradlater goes out with her.

He can't have it both ways, he either likes Jane enough to call her or he doesn't and then he has no say in who she goes out with.  Holden also complains about Ackley, saying that he is pathetic, yet Ackley has found a way to be successful academically, something that has alluded Holden. 

Even though Ackley may not be super popular, he is still maintaining his average and expected to graduate from Pencey Prep.  Holden has failed out. 

Holden goes to NYC and immediately feels both exhilarated and terrfied at being alone without parental supervision.  He longs to go home, but suppresses this desire until he can't take it anymore and sneaks into his apartment to see his little sister.

Holden spends a great deal of time judging others while ignoring his own problems.  He does not take responsibility for his faults and fails to own up when he is wrong.  He is misguided and prone to excuse making, yet wants to be given the benefit of the doubt.  He is a magnet for trouble, especially with regard to the incident with Maurice.  Holden brings trouble onto himself and then wants the reader to feel sorry for him.

He won't admit that he is unable to deal with the loss of his brother, he belongs in the mental institution, he is in need of psychological help.


Read the study guide:
The Catcher in the Rye

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question