Illustration of a man smoking a cigarette

The Catcher in the Rye

by J. D. Salinger
Start Free Trial

In The Catcher in the Rye, what are examples of Holden being phony or a hypocrite and going back on what he said?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In The Catcher in the Rye, narrator Holden Caulfield often discusses his disdain for "phonies," but also states that he enjoys lying. He describes himself as "the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life," and recounts times when he lied about going to the opera when he...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

In The Catcher in the Rye, narrator Holden Caulfield often discusses his disdain for "phonies," but also states that he enjoys lying. He describes himself as "the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life," and recounts times when he lied about going to the opera when he was walking to the store, and lied to Spencer about going to the gym when he needed an excuse to leave the room. Although Holden declares a hatred for insincerity and dishonesty, his confession of this habit shows he is guilty of being a "phony," too. Another example of Holden being "phony" is his frequent complaints about the falseness of movies and D.B.'s decision to "prostitute himself" as a screenplay writer, despite the fact that Holden frequently attends movies and says he enjoys them, especially with his younger sister. He says, "if there's one thing I hate, it's the movies," but later describes several instances of enjoying movies with Phoebe, concluding that many of the movies they watched were "pretty good." Holden contradicts his own stated hatred for dishonesty and movies throughout the novel, showing the hypocrisy of his worldview.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team