The book Catcher in the Rye is set in the 1940's. Holden Caulfield is a sixteen year old boy from New York City, and he's recently flunked out of several prestigious boarding schools because he doesn't apply himself. You can tell from reading just a few simple pages that he indeed is an extremely bright kid, but he is viewed as a judgmental cynic and doesn't give much of anything a chance. Their are about a million different things that "kills" Holden, but phony people are at the top of his extensive list. A "phony", in Holden's perspective, could fall under the category of a social-climber, name-dropper, appearance-obsessed, secret slob, a private flit, or even a suck-up, as long as he believes that they're creating an illusion of being something that they're not, or doing something that doesn't come from their good conscience and heart. Holden meets, greets, and ends a conversation with somebody the same way every time. He judges them before the conversation even begins, speaks to them without hiding his true feelings about that person, and then becomes disappointed when they aren't there to support him, talk with him, or try to understand him. How can Holden be enthusiastic about meeting people when he deems everyone and their mother (literally – he encounters quite a few mothers in this story) to be phony?
There must be some psychological reason that makes Holden feel like he has to reject or dub someone a phony, something that makes him feel as if harshly judging someone is necessary. From observing his behaviors, it seems as if it is a defense mechanism to protect him from getting hurt, because he is a very sensitive guy and can't deal with a lot of criticism or rejection. He justifies his rejectors by thinking of it like this, "It's not his fault the three girls in the Lavender Room weren't terribly interested in giving him the time of day; they were just phonies who couldn't carry on a conversation. He can't feel bad if Ackley doesn't want to let him...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document