Who is D.B., and why is Holden somewhat contemptuous of him?

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lynnebh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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D.B. is Holden's older brother. He is a writer living in Hollywood when the novel takes place. Holden used to admire D.B. for his great writing skills. Holden says his brother used to be a "serious writer" but he has since moved to Hollywood to write screenplays. To Holden, D.B. has sold out for money because Holden does not believe screenplay writing is worthy writing.  Like everyone else he dislikes, Holden says D.B. is a phony and Holden has nothing but contempt for him. Throughout the novel, Holden refers to D.B. from time to time when something phony reminds him of his brother. D.B. is contrasted with Phoebe, Holden's sister, who is younger and whom Holden admires. Another brother, Allie, has died from leukemia.

Read the analysis of this novel here on enotes. See the link below.

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price7781 | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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D. B. is Holden’s older brother and is a screen writer in Hollywood.  Holden hates that D. B. has “sold out” to the Hollywood establishment for money and a fancy Jaguar.  Holden calls his brother a “prostitute” because he takes money for his writing talent.  We are first introduced to D. B. in the very beginning of the novel when Holden is recovering in a sanatorium near where D. B. lives.  Holden says that D. B. comes to visit him every weekend.  Holden admired D. B. when he wrote a short story called “The Secret Goldfish” about a kid who wouldn’t let anyone look at his goldfish.  Now, Holden thinks D. B. is just another phony. 

D. B. is J. D. Salinger’s attempt to say something about Hollywood, movies, and writing for others rather than yourself.  Salinger never sold the rights to The Catcher in the Rye to make a movie because of Salinger’s dislike for fake stories that are usually found on the movie screen.  We also see Holden express his disdain for movies as well even though he seems to go to a lot of them.

D. B. is in direct contrast to Allie who wrote his thoughts on his baseball glove and would stand out in the field reading them.  In Holden’s mind, Allie wrote for himself; D. B. for the money.

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