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Essay on The Phony Theme of The Catcher In The Rye

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The Phony Theme of The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger

 
     In life there comes a time when everyone thinks that they are surrounded by phoniness. This often happens during the teen years when the person is trying to find a sense of direction. Holden Caulfield, a 16-year-old teen-ager is trying to find his sense of direction in J.D. Salinger's, "The Catcher In The Rye." Holden has recently been expelled from Pency Prep for failing four out of his five classes. He decides to start his Christmas recess early and head out to New York. While in New York Holden faces new experiences, tough times and a world of "phony." Holden is surrounded by phoniness because that is the word he uses to identify everything in the world that he rejects.

Holden uses the word phony to identify everything in the world that he rejects. He always sees something wrong with everybody. People are too talkative, too quiet, or just weird. He thinks that he is the perfect person but no one believes that he is. With this, Holden believes that he is surrounded by "phoniness." Holden lives in Ossenburger Hall, which is named after a wealthy Pencey graduate who made a fortune in the discount funeral home business. Ossenburger went to the chapel and made a speech that lasted about "ten hours." Holden goes on to say that he cracked about fifty corny jokes and then Ossenburger emphasizes that "he talked to Jesus all the time, even when he was driving his car." Holden thinks this is a load of crap and asserts, "'that killed me. I just see the big phony bastard shifting into first gear and asking Jesus to send him a few more stiffs" (17). Holden can't believe what he just heard. He sees this big "phony" praying to Jesus to send him some...


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... the things around him that he couldn't before.

 
Works Cited

Bloom, Harold. Major Literary Characters: Holden Caulfield. New York: Chelsea House, 1990.

Kaplan, Robert B. Cliff's Notes: Catcher In The Rye. Lincoln: Cliff's Notes, Inc., 1999.

Marsden, Malcolm M. If You Really Want To Know: A Catcher Casebook. Chicago: Scott, Foresman and Company, 1963.

Pinsker, Sanford. The Catcher In The Rye: Innocence Under Pressure. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1993.

Roemer, Danielle M. "The Personal Narrative and Salinger's Catcher in the Rye". Western Folklore 51 (1992): 5-10.

Salinger, J.D. The Catcher In The Rye. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1951.

Wildermuth, April. "Nonconformism in the Works of J.D. Salinger." 1997 Brighton High School. 24 November 2002. <http://ww.bcsd.org/BHS/english/mag97/papers/Salinger.htm>

 


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