In The Catcher in the Rye, why does Holden not like the bartender at the Wicker Bar?

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gpane | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Holden does not like the bartender at the Wicker Bar because he regards him as a very insincere type who doesn't bother with the customers unless they're rich or famous. This snobbery and pretentiousness is characteristic of the whole place in Holden's view:

It's one of these places that are supposed to be very sophisticated and all, and the phonies are coming in the window. (chapter 19).

Phonies, of course, are to be found in every corner of society as far as Holden is concerned, but he does seem to reserve his greatest vitriol for people and places that aspire to being suave and cultured and elitist; for example his girlfriend Sally Hayes, who gushes over famous actors, and her even more insufferable acquaintance, an Ivy League type who bores Holden almost to death with his conversation. He is the sort that Holden visualises generally sitting around with his equally stuck-up friends, all of them 'criticising shows and books and women in those tired, snobby voices' (chapter 17).

Holden certainly does not denigrate art himself, nor does he altogether forego his visits to trendy hotspots, but he simply can't bear people who seem to him to just make a show of being artistic or knowledgeable.


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