Who does Holden dislike in The Catcher in the Rye?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

One could argue that it is easier to list the people that Holden Caulfield does like rather than list the numerous people that Holden mentions he cannot stand. Holden is portrayed as a neurotic, hypercritical adolescent, who is extremely cynical and immature. He mentions that he cannot stand "phonies," which is a general term used for insincere, selfish people. Most of the adults that Holden interacts with fall under the category of "phonies" and he views them with contempt. In the novel, Holden dislikes his next-door neighbor in his dorm, Ackley, and does not necessarily like his roommate, Stradlater, who he refers to as a "secret slob" and "sexy bastard." Holden also dislikes Bernice's friends, Marty and Laverne, who are rude to him at the Lavender Room. Holden also dislikes Sunny's pimp, Maurice, who beats him up after demanding that Holden pay him ten bucks instead of the five dollars they originally agreed upon. Holden also dislikes his older brother, D.B., who sold out to write movies in Hollywood instead of continuing to write short stories. Holden also seems to dislike Sally Hayes, who he feels is superficial, materialistic, and rather annoying.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Here's a list of Holden's phonies, those who are materialistic, hypocritical, and otherwise dishonest:


A. “Phonies”

1. Glad-handing adults (headmaster)

2. Over-sexed teens (Stradlater)

3. Pretentious snobs (Luce)

4. Celebrity-obsessed girls (in Lavender room)

5. Materialistic artists (D.B.)

By contrast, here's a list of the non-phonies

B.  Non-Phonies:

1. All kids are non-phonies: Allie, Pheobe

2. Nuns are non-phonies: talked about Romeo & Juliet

3. Biggest non-phony: James Castle--fell to his death rather than take back “conceited”

4. Mercutio from Romeo & Juliet.  Hated false pretense, puppy love

a. J. C. (“Jesus Christ”): is Castle Holden’s martyred saint?

b. Antolini carried Castle’s body; protected him from rubber-necks

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Holden mentions consistently throughout the story that what he hates the most, in general, is (quote) "phony people". On that list many will fall such as girls, jocks, his older brother, among others.

Holden's anger cannot be pinned down to a list of specific people he dislikes. His therapeutic relief stems from placing blame on other's for getting on with their lives whether they are good or not. Phonyness is what he hates first and foremost.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial