Holden is often hypocritical—he says one thing but does another.  Analyze three examples of him being hypocritical in The Catcher in the Rye.

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

1. Holden Caulfield claims to hate Hollywood, going to the movies, and seeing shows on Broadway. At the end of the first paragraph of the novel, Holden says,

"If there's one thing I hate, it's the movies. Don't even mention them to me." (1)

However, Holden contradicts this claim in several scenes throughout the novel. Holden imitates several characters from different movies by tap-dancing in front of Stradlater and pretending that he has been shot in battle while he is in New York. Holden also goes to see a movie with Ackley and even takes Sally Hayes to see a show on their date.

2. Holden also claims to hate phony adults and people he thinks act superficial, yet continually seeks their companionship. Holden goes to see "phony" individuals like Carl Luce and approaches three superficial girls at the Lavender Room. He even claims to hate Ackley, yet seeks solace in his room after fighting Stradlater.

3. During Holden's date with Sally Hayes, he tells her in the back seat of a taxicab that he loves her. However, Holden clearly does not love Sally. Throughout their entire date, Holden complains about her being superficial and finds Sally annoying. Despite the fact that Holden despises her personality, he asks Sally to live with him in the middle of the wilderness. Holden tells the reader,

"I told her I loved her and all. It was a lie, of course, but the thing is, I meant it when I said it." (67)

sfwriter eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Holden says that he is the "most terrific liar he ever met" in the beginning of Chapter 3.   But he spends a great deal of time talking about how much he hates "phonies"!  This is a central contradiction in Holden's behavior throughout the book.  Holden hates it when anyone is insincere or less than truthful with him, but he tells lies throughout the book to almost everyone he meets. 

With Ackley, also in Chapters 3 and 4, Holden complains that his next-door neighbor spends all his time in Holden and Stradlater's room.  But later, in Chapter 7, Holden goes to Ackley's room and stays there -- going so far as to lay down in Ackley's roommate's bed for a time.  The disrespect of other people's boundaries that Holden criticizes Ackley so severely for he exhibits in the exact same way.

In regards to money, Holden does several hypocritical things.  But perhaps the sharpest is when, in Chapter 1, he criticizes his brother D.B. for going to Holllywood and "prostituting himself" by writing screenplays for the movies.  D.B. had once been a "regular writer", and now he has made a great deal of money writing for the movies.  Holden is critical of this, but Holden likes what money can give him.  He spends a great deal of money -- almost all of the money he had on him when he left Pencey, in the two days after he left school.  He likes to throw money around, but he criticizes his brother for earning it. This is certainly hypocritical.

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The Catcher in the Rye

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