Holden Caulfield’s Grown-Ups in Catcher in the Rye

What type of faults can the world exhibit on a person, and what kind of faults and habits can that person reflect? In many ways the world is unjust, and everyone lives in a world they did not create. The fault that society has created is a cold truth bestowed upon us at a young age. For young Holden Caulfield it is no different, the phonies he most despised he has now turned into.

Phoniness is the emblem of this book and everything that is wrong with society. In The Catcher in the Rye Holden is a person who does not like phonies, and often has conflicting problems with his “phoniness” and growing up. Holden’s character is immature and resentful of the adult world, and his views on phoniness is related to why he does not want to grow up. “Everything always stayed right where it was.” Just like every adolescent, Holden is afraid of changes and struggles that life comes with.

Holden’s view towards phoniness is basically dislike towards hypocrisy. This is an extension from his experience growing up in prep schools. In chapter two, his teacher Mr. Haas would show favoritism to people with good looks. Holden was a witness to Mr. Haas’s “phony” pleasantries as the children would arrive to school. Holden defined hypocrites as “phonies,” and the underlying cause of the loss of innocence.

In The Catcher in the Rye Holden has an obsession with innocence, and one of his views of innocence is reflected on his little sister Phoebe. Phoebe and the other kids are very important characters in the book, because they represent the strong image of innocence. In The Catcher in the Rye Phoebe asked Holden an important question. She asked Holden what he wanted to be. Holden responded by stating that he wanted to be the “Catcher in the Rye,” meaning he wanted to stop children from growing up and losing their innocence. Preventing them from having to face the phoniness of the adult world.

Holden himself exhibits fault of society by smoking. He uses it as a way to distance himself from other and ease his nerves. He also attempts to drink alcohol. However, he is underage and is denied by the bartender. Then, he also pays a prostitute and lies about his age in order to get some practice in. These faults reveal how Holden is contributing to losing his innocence, and also how the surrounding culture is rubbing off on him.

Sometime towards the end of the book Holden visits the Museum of Natural History and mentioned he visited it every Saturday when he was a kid. His favorite was “the Indian Room,” because everytime he would go back it was always the same. Nothing really changed except for him, everytime he visited the room he was slowly changing. What J.D Salinger is trying to say is that change is inevitable, and that we are all going to have to grow up at some point.

Growing up is the natural part of life that will always come our way no matter how much we try to avoid it, and the impact of society is what molds us into the people we are today. The ability to accept change is part of growing up. We should never feel secure with where we stand now, and always be prepared for the change. As we grow up we are bound to lose innocence, and the way we take in information from others and how we handle it is what really matters.