Holden Caulfield from The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger comes off as an extremely intricate character. Throughout the novel, he frequently refers to the people he encounters as “phonies,” but ironically he possess the qualities of being “phony” himself. His perception of people and what he says repeatedly contradicts his own actions, making his character seem hypocritical.
Take Holden’s red hunting hat for instance- “I put on this hat that I’d bought in New York that morning. It was this red hunting hat, one with those very, very long peaks…The way I wore it, I swung the old peak way around to the back-very corny, I’ll admit, but I liked it that way. I looked good in it that way.”(17) Holden’s first reaction to the red hunting hat can be seen from this excerpt. The reason he bought the hat was because it stood out, being so odd and brightly colored. His desire to be different and unique is hypocritical because he usually calls this type of person as “phony.”
Holden’s attitude towards sexuality is also hypocritical. He often criticizes people for being promiscuous and calls them perverts. For example, when he goes out to public and social places such as the party at the hotel and the bars he refers to the people in attendance as perverts. “The hotel was lousy with perverts.”(62) Holden claims that he does not understand sex and while talking to Luce, says that he “regards as a wuddayacallit- a physical and spiritual experience.”(146) Yet he spends much of the novel trying to lose his virginity.
The preservation of innocence is perhaps the idea that Holden seems most hypocritical about. When he sees the word “Fuck You” written on the wall at Phoebe’s school he says that “it damn near drove me crazy. I kept wanting to kill whoever’d written it. I kept picturing myself catching him at it, and how I’d smash his head…till he was goddamn dead and bloody.”(201) This shows his desire to protect children from corruption to be “a catcher in the...