The novel The Catcher in the Rye is about a young protagonist, Holden Caulfield, who tells the story about his life from a mental institution and how he got himself into that situation. Holden is not as perfect as he wants to be, due to his constant lying, his tendency to judge others and the negative situations he gets himself in. His inability to recognize that he is a phony and a hypocrite directly contributes to his physiological problems.
Holden Caulfield thinks he is perfect, but yet he claims to be a very good liar, “I’m the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life” (Salinger 16). He works his way with things by lying, he believes that it is a gift and that it is necessary to lie for the fun of it. Holden would also lies to get himself out of situations, The thing is though I have to get going now. I have quite a bit of equipment at the gym I have to get to take home with me. I really do. He looked up at me and started nodding again, with this very serious look on his face.
I felt sorry as hell for him, all of a sudden. But I just couldn’t hang around there any longer (Salinger 15). Holden would use lying to distract him of what he really was because he was unable to deal with problems and every chance he had he would avoid it all. Lying is a major part of his psychological problem because it neglects the real him and does not let him realize who he truly is. Holden would find his own faults in others by judging them, He started telling us how he was never ashamed, when he was in some kind of trouble or something, to get right down on his knees and pray to God.
He told us we should always pray to God- talk to him and all- wherever we were. He told us we ought to think of Jesus as our buddy and all. He said he talked to Jesus all the time. Even when was driving his car. That killed me. I can just see the big phony bastard shifting into first gear asking Jesus to send him a few more stiffs (Salinger 17). Holden would consistently do this with everyone around him everyone he met was a phony and would not meet up to his standards, “Besides being a terrific piano player. It was very phony-I mean him being such a big snob and all.
In a funny way, though I felt sort of sorry for him” (Salinger 84). There was many negative situations Holden would find himself in. Holden was not able to deal with problems but yet he would try to pick at many. Holden had a problem with Stradlater because he went out with Jane, Holden’s childhood love, he provoked Stradlater and then could not help himself out of the problem, Get your lousy knees off my chest, I told him. I was almost bawling. I really was, go on, get offa me,ya crumby bastard. He wouldn’t do it, though.
He kept holding onto my wrists and I kept calling him a sonuvabitch and all, for around ten hours. I can hardly even remember what all I said to him (Salinger 44) Holden also got kicked out of his high school, Pencey Prep, for failing in numerous subjects, he also made a bad decision in leaving before he was told to, “ All of a sudden I decided what I’d really do, I’d get the hell out of Pencey-right that same night and all. I mean not wait till Wednesday or anything”(Salinger 51). Holden would always aggravate any situation to create a problem, it was his way or no way.
Another problem he encountered was not paying a prostitute the correct amount and they came to claim the money, You’re a stupid chiseling moron, and in about two years you’ll be one of those scraggy guys that come up to you on the street and ask for a dime for coffee. You’ll have snot all over your dirty filthy overcoat, and you’ll be- Then he smacked me. I didn’t even try to get out of the way or duck or anything. All I felt was this terrific punch in my stomach (Salinger 103). Holden mental problems all had to do with the way he acted towards every situation and the negative problems he was surrounded with.
Holden has a hard time dealing with everyday life, and feels that everyone around him is a phony, one of the reasons for his mental breakdown. His own mind working against himself caused him to have internal problems and turn against himself, “ What I really felt like, though, was committing suicide. I felt like jumping out the window. I probably would’ve too, if I’d been sure somebody’d cover me up as soon as I landed. I didn’t want a bunch of stupid rubbernecks looking at me when I was all gory” (Salinger 104). Holden also shows a sense of hypocrisy, 'I’m always saying Glad to have met you to someone I’m not at all glad I met.
If you want to stay alive, you have to say that stuff, though' (Salinger 87) Holden attempts not to keep himself alive, but to keep alive the innocence of those around him. He wants them to think he really is glad to meet them when really he is glad to meet them in order to keep his “perfect” image. Holden demonstrates insecurity with himself, 'My brother Dab’s a writer and all, and my brother Allie, the one that died, that I told you about, was a wizard. I’m the only really dumb one'(Salinger 67). This shows Holden’s lack of self confidence and feeling that he is a disappointment to his family.
All these moments reveal that Holden is always self-doubting himself, it also expresses his psychological problems and the reason why he is institutionalized. Throughout the novel Holden Caulfield tries hard to be someone ideal, this fails because of his lying, judging and tough situations he drags himself in. Also his tendency in finding his faults in others but not recognizining it, made him a hypocrite and phony himself. All these affect him and add up to his mental problems. This shows that Holden is a character that lets thoughts over come him and his actions. Holden’s mental state is worse than he admits or acknowledges.