In Chapter 17, from pages 117-120, Holden outlines almost all of his anxieties about life. What are his criticisms?

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In addition to the phoniness Holden sees in the cute, young girls (they will all marry phony, boring men) he watches waiting for Sally to show up for the date. Throughout the chapter, he also describes his anxiety or angst about growing up.

  • Holden doesn’t want to wait until after...

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In addition to the phoniness Holden sees in the cute, young girls (they will all marry phony, boring men) he watches waiting for Sally to show up for the date. Throughout the chapter, he also describes his anxiety or angst about growing up.

  • Holden doesn’t want to wait until after college to live his life.  He wants to run off and live in a cabin in New England.  He says that after college you have to grow up and “follow the rules”.
  • Holden hates the play because the actors were showing off more than they were acting.
  • Holden hates the “name-dropping” that Sally and George engage in at the play.  Phoniness!
  • Holden hates the phoniness of George and the social groups of the “Ivy-League type” like George who stand around and talk about the play.
  • Holden doesn’t like it when Sally says he should grow out his hair because his hairstyle is old-fashioned.  Again, a phony statement by Sally who can’t accept Holden for who he is even though she says she “loves” him.
  • Holden’s anxiety about sex causes him to change the subject when Sally asks him if he is coming over to “trim the Christmas tree” with her.
  • One of the final anxieties is that Holden doesn’t think anyone understands him.  This is shown when Sally thinks Holden is shouting, and Holden says he isn’t.

This chapter solidifies Holden’s anxiety about phony people and their actions. The irony is that Holden, too, falls victim to phoniness when he “makes out” with Sally and says he loves her, when he asks her to run off with him to live in a cabin even though he knows she is not his type.

In summary, Holden's angst has to do with growing up and accepting responsibility, phoniness, not being accepted by others, and being misunderstood.

 

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