List some of the people and actions Holden sees as phony, and then discuss how he is phony himself in The Catcher in the Rye.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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PHONIES.  About the only two people that Holden does not consider phonies are his sister, Phoebe, and his dead brother, Allie. Virtually everyone else fits this label.

  • Holden calls the headmaster of Pencey Prep a "phony slob."
  • Pencey Prep
  • Lillian Simmons
  • Sally Hayes.  Holden believes his ex-girlfriend has acquired a snooty, Ivy League outlook.
  • Mr. Antolini.  Although he is Holden's favorite teacher, he is also a phony because Holden believes him to be a pervert.
  • D. B. Caulfield.  Holden believes his brother has sold out for the financial success of Hollywood.
  • Stradlater.  His "obnoxious" roommate is handsome but intellectually lazy.
  • Sunny, the prostitute.  She accepts payment from Holden, but then returns with her pimp for more money; Holden wasted her time by talking instead of having sex.
  • The Edmont Hotel.  It's full of "perverts and morons."
  • The Seattle girls.  Their main goal of being in New York is to see celebrities.

HOLDEN'S PHONINESS.  Perhaps the best example of Holden's own phoniness comes when sister Phoebe claims that he hates "a million things." When Holden tries to disprove this, the only two things that he can admit to himself that he likes is Phoebe and his dead brother, Allie. Holden's hatred of virtually everything reveals his own mental instability: He is the worst phony of them all because he can see nothing good in anything around him--a world that should provide him at least a few pleasures. 

However, despite his totally negative attitude as the narrator, he often pretends to be someone else when he is around others--particularly females. He always tries to impress them by pretending to be something he is not.