Holden Caulfield, the main character in J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, is what I believe to be one of the most well-developed characters which I have read about. He has many characteristics that are all his own, such as the way he views the world, his friends and his family. One of the main things that characterizes Holden, is that way that he thinks the entire world is “phony.”Holden’s view of the world as “phony” is a very strong one, and in most cases, is correct. Holden thinks that the majority of the people in the world are putting on some sort of an act to impress or befriend people. In a way, Holden is probably correct in thinking that most of the people he came in contact with are “phony,” such as his roommate at Pencey, Ward Stradlater. In one instance, Holden refers to Stradlater as a “secret slob.”
He describes how Stradlater always tries to be neat and tidy on the outside so as to impress people, but how he is not when you get to know him. In the scene where Holden and Stradlater are in the “can,” and Stradlater is getting ready for a date, Holden describes Stradlater’s razor as “rusty as hell and full of lather and hair and crap.” Another of Holden’s run-ins with “phonies,” came to him while he was in New York City. He was lonely and looking for someone to keep him company, so he calls a girl named Faith Cavendish. He was told about Faith by a friend of his who went to Princeton, Eddie Birdsell. When he calls Faith, she has no desire to talk to him whatsoever, and she makes that quite clear, until Holden drops the name of Eddie, and she instantly perks up at the thought that Holden might be an important person.
She asks Holden where he’s calling from, and he replies “a phone booth,” and he tells her that he has no money, and she then tells Holden that she has no time. The way that Faith changes her mind so quickly when she finds that Holden has no money is a prime example of the “phonies” Holden encounters. Another general example of what Holden thinks is “phony” is actors. He talks about how D.B. took Phoebe and him to see “Hamlet,” and he talks about Sir Laurence Olivier, and how the play would have been good, except that Olivier “knew he was good, and that spoils it.” Holden says how he can’t go to a play and pay attention to what the actor is saying because he “has to keep worrying about whether he’s going to do something phony every minute.”Holden has another incident with phonies when he invites Sally Hayes on a date.
Holden takes her to a play, which he considers phony as it is, but then at intermission, Sally meets a man who she hasn’t seen for years, and they began a big phony act. Holden says, “You’ve though that they hadn’t seen each other for twenty years they probably even hugged and kissed checks and all.” This is the kind of behavior that Holden obviously never grew up with, isn’t used to, and doesn’t like. Through his experiences in New York City, and his many flings with phony women, Holden grows to believe that everyone in phony in some way. He thinks that the whole world is phony, and it’s not likely that everyone in the world is corrupted or “phony,” so is it possible that all the characters in the novel are all really normal and Holden is really the only “phony” one?