Holden values very few of the things his peers and family value. In the opening chapter, he is in the process of leaving Pencey Prep because he "was flunking four subjects and not applying [myself] and all." Holden clearly does not value this private institution's prestige, nor what it can do for him in the future, unlike what his parents, the faculty, and his peers believe.
When Holden goes to the movies with Brossard and Ackley, he is disgusted at their response to the film; they "both laughed like 21 hyenas at stuff that wasn’t even funny." Holden does, however speak highly of reading Thomas Hardy, confessing, "I like that Eustacia Vye." Holden's cultural tastes are unlike those of his classmates.
Holden is not an athlete, and he finds fault with Stradlater and his basketball coach Ed Banky, observing that "in every school I’ve gone to, all the athletic bastards stick together." Holden disapproves of Banky allowing Stradlater to borrow his car since it is against the rules and because it enables Stradlater to be in a position to compromise Jane Gallagher's virtue.
Holden's purchase of a red hunting hat is a highly unusual choice for an urban life in Manhattan and becomes a tangible symbol of his nonconformity.
Holden has little respect or liking for Sally Hayes; he rejects her superficial social behaviors and desire for a conventional future of marriage and upper middle class respectability. She does not understand or show interest in Holden's dream of moving to New England and living off the land in a cabin.