The Catcher in the Rye: Holden and Hypocrisy

Holder and Hypocrisy The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity. – Andre Guide Often times hypocrites do not believe that they are actually being hypocritical, they believe they are telling the truth, their actions however prove otherwise. Everyone lies from time to time, but when someone actually starts believing that their lies are truths, that is when you know there is a real problem. In the book, The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Slinger, the main character, Holder Coalfield, is continuously deceitful.

At first you believe him, but as the book goes on it becomes harder and harder to take anything Holder says or thinks seriously. Since the entire book is told straight from Holder himself, it is hard to make out what is real and what is not. This creates a huge problem when trying to analyze any aspect of this peculiar novel, and to try to make sense of it, I have come to the following conclusion. Holder goes throughout the whole book calling people “phonies”; however he is the true “phony’.

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Holder constantly refers to people as “phonies” even though he himself seems to be more of “phony’ than anyone else in the novel. Holder’s use of this word is unbelievably hypocritical. Holder uses the word “phony’ to describe someone who is fake, insincere, or superficial and he fits that definition perfectly. To prove this, Holder even says that he is a liar in the book; “I’m the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life. It’s awful” (Slinger 16). This is why it is hard to understand why Holder would judge people for being untruthful, when he knows he has the same exact problem.

It would also be hard to believe that Holder would actually call himself a phony, engendering the awfulness that he always associates “phoniness” with, and most people do not think of themselves as awful. Throughout the book Holder is always criticizing people for whatever they are doing, even if they are simply Just being themselves. Whenever he meets someone he always feels the need to label them into a certain category, and since he thinks the whole world is fake he often labels people as “phony’. While Holder’s use of the word “phony’ is very artificial there are also other examples of Holder’s hypocrisy.

Another example of Holder’s deceit is his illustrious red hunting hat. Holder claims that he bought the hat because it was so brightly colored and he knew it would stand out. However, he always makes a point of taking it off whenever he goes outside. He only seems to put the hat on whenever he feels most comfortable, and often times that is only when he is alone. It was pretty nice to get back to my room, after I left Old Spencer, because everybody was down at the game, and the heat was on in our room, for a change. It felt sort of cozy.

I took off my coat and my tie and unbuttoned my shirt collar, and then I put on this hat that I ad bought in New York that morning. It was this red hunting hat[… ] (17) Holder tries to present an image of self-confidence and indifference to the opinions of others, but his actions clearly show otherwise. Even though Holder may have intended to buy the hat in order to stand out, like countless other times during the is his attitude towards sex. Holder’s attitude toward sex is very complicated, and this is probably as a result of his hypocritical nature.

Holder criticizes people who are overtly promiscuous/sexual, cause he deeply fears that exposure to sex is extremely dangerous to innocence. For example Holder goes so far as to get into a fight with his roommate, Seedeater, after Holder suspects Seedeater of giving his friend Jane Gallagher “the time” on their date (43). Even though Seedeater probably did not have sex with Jane, the thought of it still drives Holder mad. Holder values innocence extremely, however hypocritically he spends an enormous part of the novel attempting to lose his virginity.

Of course in the end, like usual, Holder always ends up shying away from actually having sex. Holder is always having a tough time making decisions or committing to anything; this makes something as serious as deciding to lose his virginity almost impossible for him. Holder’s hypocrisy becomes clearer with each example given, but even after looking at these chosen few it is evident that Holder is a hypocrite. To further prove my point Holder even closes the book with an extremely contradictory statement. Holder’s deceitfulness is shown yet again at the close of The Catcher in the Rye, confirming the validity of the argument.

After Holder has finished telling the story of is childhood, Holder closes with the terrifically hypocritical statement, “Don’t ever tell anybody anything. ” This was an extremely strange conclusion too novel, and the only explanation for it is Holder’s hypocritical nature. The only way to make sense of this ending is to think of it that way, otherwise one is Just left completely confused. These closing statements really confirmed my belief of Holder being a hypocrite; however some people will still continue to argue against me. While many may argue against this accusation, I believe that Holder is a “phony’.

Sure it is possible that there may be other reasons for his contradictions, but I have come to this conclusion from my given evidence. People could argue their points all day, but considering this is a book, and the author has since deceased, it is impossible to find out who is actually “right”. So as of now, everyone is “right” as long as they can support their arguments. So even though there is no real point to disputing this, debates will continue, because people simply love to argue. Work Cited Slinger,J. D. The Catcher in the Rye. 1951. Boston: Little, Brown, 1991. Print.

Jesse
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