The Catcher in the Rye Questions and Answers
by J. D. Salinger

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How does Holden feel about his brother D.B.’s having become a screenwriter in The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger? 

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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For Holden, Hollywood epitomizes everything he hates. It stands for all that's phony, fake, and insincere. He positively loathes the movies, and so he isn't in the slightest bit impressed at his brother's becoming a screenwriter. As is often the case when Holden lashes out at so-called phonies, there's more than a hint of jealousy involved here. D.B. has found a place for himself in the big old world, something that Holden shows absolutely no sign of being able to do.

But more significantly, Holden wants to live life on his own terms, however difficult that is. His brother, like just about every adult he's ever come across, doesn't do that. He simply goes with the flow, acting the way that people expect him to, working for someone else, and doing their bidding. In other words, D.B. is no longer an individual in Holden's eyes, and Holden can't respect him for it.

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mwestwood, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Holden Caulfield is repulsed by his brother's profession as a screenwriter.

In the opening chapter, Holden explains that his brother D. B. lives in Hollywood, not far from the hospital where he is. Holden relates that D.B. was a "regular writer" when he lived at home, and he wrote a "terrific book of short stories, The Secret Goldfish." But, Holden remarks, "Now that he's out in Hollywood, D. B. [is] being a prostitute." He adds, "If there's one thing I hate, it's the movies."

What Holden probably means is that when he was a freelance writer, D. B. expressed his own ideas and exercised his own creativity, so there was a genuine quality to his writing; however, now, as a screenwriter, D.B. writes what is demanded by other people, such as directors and producers. Thus, he has "prostituted" himself.

When Holden mentions his hatred for movies along with his disgust for his brother's being a screenwriter, these remarks seem to foreshadow his repulsion for phoniness as well as his cynicism that is expressed later in the narrative.  

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