Theme Of Phony In Catcher In The Rye

Superior Essays
If anyone were to have a stronger outlook on society, it would be Holden Caulfield and his addiction with naming the phonies in his world‒ so practically everyone he meets. One may wonder what creates a person’s negative outlook on life, however, there are many, including Holden, who see the world as only black and white. In J.D Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, the one motif, “phony”, is exaggerated by Holden Caulfield as the result of his displacement over his brother’s tragic death, ultimately leading to his clinical depression.
The main character of this novel, Holden, continuously uses the word, phony, to describe the people that he encounters with. Holden applies the word phony to anything or anyone that strikes him as fake and superficial.
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Looking through the psychoanalytical lens, Holden uses the motif, “phony” to take out the anger of his brother’s death as a result of displacement. In multiple instances does Holden use the word phony with a negative connotation like on page 5, “what a phony slob he was”, Salinger writes. In addition, on page 17, Salinger uses phony in context with a negative attitude, “the big phony bastard”, he writes. And lastly, he displays the use of phony again on page 70: “ with a terrible phony”. Holden uses the word phony in an extremely negative context. He connects phony with words like slob, bastard, and adjectives including terrible. Clearly, he has a strong opinion in the realness of the people he meets. As previously stated, Holden just wants a two-way world of black or white. His reasoning behind his wishes is that if the world was simpler, Allie would not have died due to his disease. He believes that since Allie was such an innocent, young boy, he should not have died the way that he did. This results into his anger and frustration to “phony” people in the world because Allie was anything but phony. Holden could not protect his brother's innocence, creating his hatred towards the phony’s he encounters, however his constant act of calling things and people phony are a major indicator of his clinical

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