Themes Present in the Catcher in the Rye

Topics: The Catcher in the Rye, Fraud, J. D. Salinger Pages: 5 (1828 words) Published: October 29, 2013
Zachary Sessions
Mrs. Neal
English 2204 7th
30 November 2012
Phoniness, Loneliness, and Innocence in The Catcher in the Rye Generally, the ordinary public typically contains problems with deception and the sensation of cheating. Within the globe, the feeling of phoniness is present and can result in vast varieties of individuals to distrust one another. In the bottomless trench of every human being’s bowels, there is also a vacancy. In all of the lives of the world, citizens collectively stumble upon this vacancy referred to as loneliness, which can cause consequences such as depression and a poor self-image. Innocence causes certain dilemmas down the road when it is time to mature and liberate away from it. Throughout the lives of residents of the immense population, one naturally faces a complicated fork in the road that eventually forces numerous people to make a difficult split decision. On one side, lies the road to innocence and on the converse side is the road to maturity. The harsh truth is every person must stride down the road of maturity and deliberately depart from the childish innocence within. Coming of age can be the most complicated phase of peoples’ lives because sometimes growing up can be quite different, but to reach maturity, the innocence within must perish in order to keep moving on, and begin the next phase of life. Through the adolescent eyes of a troubled teenage boy named, Holden Caulfield, J.D. Salinger communicates the continuous, everyday struggles of Holden by delving into the themes of phoniness, loneliness, and innocence in The Catcher in the Rye.

Throughout the story, Holden perceives every solitary thing he encounters as phony, even though he happens to be just as forged as the things his juvenile mentality considers phony. To Holden, phony is the word he uses to depict people who are insincere, hypocritical and who are more worried about looking good or selfishly holding up their image. “Holden loudly complains against those who tell little lies to gloss over harsh realities, those who pose as someone or something they are not, and those who say one thing and then do something else . . .” (Kallen 64). Frequently, Holden barbarically bashes Hollywood films because of their over acted, cheesy emotions and stereotyped portrayals by labeling them as fake, but he does take enjoyment in harmlessly poking fun at them. After lackadaisically failing out of his school, Pencey Prep, Holden embarks on an odyssey through New York City where he stumbles upon a hotel with a gifted piano player in the luxurious lobby known as Ernie. Holden does not automatically identify Ernie as being phony, but he does sense it due to the insincerity he illustrates while he is performing. Although Ernie may be a great piano player, he plays for the boisterous horde of people enthralled with his skill instead of playing from his heart. Observing the kids at Pencey Prep, Holden also remarks of other instances of phoniness. Holden notes, “I’m always saying ‘glad to‘ve met you’ to somebody I’m not at all glad I met” (Marcus 2). One of the prime examples of phonies at Pencey Prep comes in the form of Holden’s roommate, who is a young man known as Stradlater. Stradlater is a handsome person to most, but according to Holden, he is phony because he is a secret slob, which means he has incredibly poor hygiene but desperately tries to cover it up without a single soul noticing. For example, he shaves with a dirty razor, but his cleanly shaven face does not reflect that he shaves with a filthy blade. Pretending to be Stradlater’s friend, Holden covertly cannot stand the phony nature of Stradlater. “Holden is himself a phony. He is an inveterate liar; he frequently masquerades as someone he is not . . .” (Kallen 64). Although everything is utterly phony to Holden, he is also an oblivious two-face because he sporadically deceives those who he dislikes as his close friends, yet he never realizes it....
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