We can learn about Holdenґs character from his own account of his adventures and to a lesser extent from his speeches and actions; and also from the reactions of others to him. Holden is like all teenagers; he has a mixture of moods and attitudes, and searches for some security. Holden is aware that there are many choices available, but he has had no instructions on religious or moral values.
Holden is virtuous; but it his virtue that leads him into difficulties. He expects everyone else to be like him, Holden sets very high standards. He is sympathetic and thoughtful – he asks Ackley out despite his dislike of him and visits Mr Spencer when he has the flu. Holden feels sorry for Sunny – the prostitute. He notices details such as her green dress and the he remarks on Mrs Morrowґs rings and her magazine, and the nunґs cheap glasses. Holden is an idealist. His high expectations include: honesty, which he expresses as a lack of phoniness and consistency, however these are not achieved by the adult world he must soon join, as a result of this he becomes more and more depressed.
Holden hates hypocrites and phoneys, but meets few people who are honest. Even his teachers are phoneys; Mr Spencer acts in front of the headmaster, and the headmaster performs in front of the rich parents and Mr Antolini appears to have suspect morals. The nightclubs that Holden visits are full of phoneyґs; Sally Hayes adores them and is one herself. The acclaimed Lunts and Olivier, Ernie and the cabaret singers are praised by everyone except Holden; even his brother, D.B. has gone to Hollywood, the phoniest place of all; he goes as far as saying that he is a ‘prostituteґ because he sells his writing for films. The few people who are not phoneyґs though are Allie and James Castle.
Although Holden is innocent he is not naive. Society has affected him to the extent that he is aware of the cost of things. He refers to the value of his coat, his cases, his...