“Hypocrisy in The Catcher in The Rye”

Jerome David Salinger in his novel demonstrates the theme of hypocrisy through Holden Caulfield. Through monologue Holden narrates his past deeds and thoughts trying to weave it to his current circumstances which are often contradictory. In comparing his activities and his though and opinion on morality, which never match, we are provoked to conclude that Holden epitomizes hypocrisy. Holden rants continuously about people who are phony although he does not live to what he claims to be. He allows himself to be subject to circumstances although he claims he gives no much thought to his activities.

Holden seems to be intolerant of people he considers pretentious yet he his himself from the plot is clearly pretentious, he uses Phony words and engages in pretentious conversations. We see that when he goes to see Mr. Spencer before leaving Pency Prep school, they have an obviously phony conversation. When spencer uses the word grand, he is infuriated claiming that he hates phony words; he however uses phony words like “nice”. Thereafter in an effort to find pity from Mrs. Morrow, he engages in a phony conversation. He misrepresents himself in an effort to justify his going home early.


Another illustration of the contrast in his thought and activities is where about his red hunting hat. He claims to have bought it because it was brightly colored and because it would stand out. This prompts us to thinking he would be wearing it all the time and that he would be proud of it. This is however not the case as he always makes a point of removing it when he goes out.
Holden also elicits hypocrisy by condemning things he himself enjoys. He compares his hate for movies with that of prisons: even so, he goes for movies. We also see in  that he claims not to like shows and in the author states that he dislikes the Lunts. After leaving school while at the hotel he purchases tickets for he and Sally to go and watch the movie; the Lunts after which he make a positive remark about the show. “The show wasn’t as bad as some I’ve seen.”


In the book we also see that Holden express so much value for the innocence of kids. He has the idea of becoming ‘the catcher’ symbolically implying that he wants to save kids from the evils of adulthood. As we see however his behavior does not reflect the innocence he wants to protect in kids. He has “had chances of losing his virginity” and had a dance with tourist women in the hotel one of whom he ends up to like. At some point he accepts a prostitute sunny in his room after a disappointing visit to Ernie’s night club. He also indulges in drinking and smoking. This is ironical because some of these activities are the evils he wants to save kids.


As we have seen, the author of the novel as illustrated hierocracy in society through the main characters. His actions contradict his words and thoughts. He is inconsistent in what he says and acts out of circumstance rather than principle. He pretends to be indifferent and not thoughtful of many things while he is deeply self-conscious. As demonstrated therefore an analysis of the protagonist’s statements and actions portray so much hypocrisy.

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