In "The Catcher in the Rye", who or what does Holden call "phoney"?

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pmiranda2857 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Holden calls all adults phonies, particularly his parents and anyone who is materialistic, that is anyone who puts the pursuit of material possessions ahead of the welfare of people. 

Unfortunately, Holden is mistaken about people like his brother, D.B. who he refers to as a prostitute because he writes scripts for Hollywood instead of serious books. 

Ward Stradlater is also a phony, because he does not live an honest life, according to Holden, particularly because of the way that he treats girls.  

"Phonies" is arguably the word most often associated with J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye. Sixteen-year-old Holden Caulfield has a thirst for authentic experience, and the fake behavior and attitudes he finds among other people sicken him. The first time the term occurs is when Holden describes the headmaster of Pencey Prep as a "phony slob."

 

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