Although Holden is a very bright and intelligent young adult, he hides behind a facade of bitterness. One of the most famous quotes in the book describes this well.
[Ackley] took another look at my hat . . . "Up home we wear a hat like that to shoot deer in, for Chrissake," he said. "That's a deer shooting hat."
"Like hell it is." I took it off and looked at it. I sort of closed one eye, like I was taking aim at it. "This is a people shooting hat," I said. "I shoot people in this hat."
There is a lot of meaning behind this quote. It is very clear from the beginning that Holden uses the hat as a sign of being an individual and unique person. He feels very alienated and separate from the rest of the world, and has a certain indignation towards the rest of the world. Because of this, Holden does not literally shoot people, but instead he does it figuratively. He uses his energy into insulting and putting down others, or `shooting people down'.
Holden is also a very big hypocrite. He often says that other characters are phony. For example, when he talks about his principal at Elkton Hills.
For instance, they had this headmaster, Mr. Haas, that was the phoniest bastard I ever met in my life. ...He'd be charming as hell and all. Except if some boy had little old funny-looking parents. You should've seen the way he did with my roommate's parents. I mean if a boy's mother was sort of fat or corny-looking or something, and if somebody's father was one of those guys that wear those suits with very big shoulders and corny black-and-white shoes, then old Hans would just shake hands with them and give them a phony smile and then he'd go talk, for maybe a half an hour, with somebody else's parents.
However, in the beginning of the third chapter, he says:
I'm the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life. It's awful. If I'm on my way to the store to buy a magazine, even, and somebody asks me where I'm going, I'm liable to say I'm going to the opera. It's terrible.
Being a phony means lying and not being true to others and yourself. Therefore, although Holden dislikes phony people, he also one himself. This makes him a hypocrite, which is something he despises.
One of the most important relationships Holden has is with his dead brother, Allie. Holden describes Allie as:
He was two years younger than I was, but he was about fifty times as intelligent. He was terrifically intelligent. ...He was also the nicest, in lots of ways. He never got mad at anybody.
The death of a younger brother he loved so much is devastating to him.
Every time I came to the end of a block and stepped off the goddam curb, I had this feeling that I'd never get to the other side of the street. ...Every time I'd get to the end of a block I'd...