Holden’s own phoniness in The Catcher in the Rye
Lying is a form of deception. Everyone lies in order to please other people, such that the other person does not get offended. However, when one sees another person do this, they are immediately called two faced but they do not realize that they do it themselves. People are so quick to point out others’ mistakes, but are never quick to point out their own. In J.D. Salinger’s novel, The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield is a hypocrite because he quickly points out the flaws in people, like how phony and fake they are, yet he fails to notice his own phoniness. This is evident when Holden notices how people are twofaced but he always lies to people. Simultaneously, he has his own flaws but is quick to judge others, and he keeps complaining about certain things but he does not find a way to make the situation better.
Holden tries to avoid places and people he thinks are phony, simply because he does not want to be surrounded by them. However, he lies to people for the fun of it, thus contradicting his actions which makes him a phony. For example, Holden says that the reason why he “left Elkton Hills was because [he] was surrounded by phonies” (Salinger 13). One of the phonies is the headmaster, Mr. Haas, who “was the phoniest bastard [he] ever met in [his] life” (13-14). He states that Mr. Haas would shake hands with everyone’s parents, but if someone had parents that looked funny, then Mr. Haas “would just shake hands with them and give them a phony smile and then he’d go talk for maybe half an hour with somebody else’s parents” (14). Holden dislikes this type of behaviour, because he thinks that people should freely express how they feel and not lie if they like or dislike something. However, Holden is guilty of what he accuses Mr. Haas of doing. He calls himself as “the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life” (16). This is evident when he lies to Mrs. Morrow about his name and claims that his name is Rudolf Schmidt when it is not. Also, Holden lies again and tells her that her son Ernest Morrow “is too shy and modest” (57), when, in fact, Holden thinks of Ernest as “the biggest bastard that ever went to Pencey, in the whole crumby history of the school” (54). This shows that Holden is guilty of accusing Mr. Haas as a phony for lying because he is also doing it himself. Mr. Haas is two faced around the “funny looking parents” (14) because he refuses to show his inner self, in the same way Holden lies to Mrs. Morrow in order to get on her good side because he is attracted to her. Therefore, Holden points out how Mr. Haas is fake, but he himself is also fake since he lies to Mrs. Morrow about himself and her son.
In addition to Holden accusing others of lying when he does it himself, Holden also judges others’ appearance and criticizes what they do, when he also has flaws. For instance, when Holden goes to a hotel after he gets off at Penn Station, he sees a bellboy that leads him to his...