The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

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In The Catcher in the Rye, why does Holden sometimes use fake names?

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Kale Emmerich eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Holden uses pseudonyms when speaking with others throughout The Catcher in the Rye for a couple of reasons. First, he doesn't want to associate his own name with some of the things he does—such as meeting with a prostitute. He doesn't want to be connected with these actions, so he uses an alias in the event that word gets out about it.

In addition, however, he has a deep dissatisfaction with his own life and a desire to make it more interesting. Because of this, he begins to weave false tales of his own life and uses fake names with other people to go along with the lies he tells. He spins stories of illness and of excitement for both pity and for respect. He wishes to gain empathy from and a connection with others without having to actually be vulnerable, so he creates fake lives in his interactions with others.

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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It's ironic that Holden should always be going around calling other people "phonies" when he frequently adopts false identities himself. However, this isn't a simple case of hypocrisy on Holden's part;...

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belarafon eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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