CIR Writing Prompt:
Phoniness is the key theme illustrated in the controversial author J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye. This novel depicts the main character Holden Caulfield's experiences just after getting kicked out of the prestigious Pency Academy. Through his journey Holden often describes people and situations he comes in contact with as phony. In fact it is Holden's "phony phobia" that keeps him from maturing from an innocent boy to an independent adult. It is Holden's "phony phobia" that keeps him from experiencing intimacy, and being a part of the adult world he is so fearful of becoming a member of. This essay will explore the meaning of Holden's favorite expression by studying how Holden hides behind his use of the word, Holden's love for children and what they mean to him, and finally coming to the conclusion on whether or not Holden is in fact "phony" himself. Holden's abhorrence for "phonies" is largely connected with him wanting to preserve his innocence. In Holden's mind, phony is an element affixed with adulthood (what he fears the most.) Adulthood means facing problems head on and being forced to create compromises. Therefore being an adult means having to hiding your weaknesses to survive, inevitably, becoming phony. Yet Holden often uses phony as an attempt to feel superior towards others. "'It's full of phonies, and all you do is study so that you can learn enough to be smart enough to be able to buy a goddam Cadillac someday, and you have to keep making believe you give a damn if the football team loses, and all you do is talk about girls and liquor and sex all day, and everybody sticks together in these dirty little goddam cliques'" (Salinger, Pg. 131.) Since Holden doesn’t participate in this type of activity he chooses to look down upon it, attempting to make himself seem superior. But Holden is conscious of people and situations that are phony, suggesting the very opposite of what many others have concluded about Holden...
Cited: Salinger, J. D.. The catcher in the rye. [1st ed. Boston: Little, Brown, 19511945. Print.
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