Catcher In The Rye Research Paper

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Western Civilization: Phony or Genuine? Western Civilization is defined as the modern culture of Western Europe and North America. While most people would agree that Western Civilization is broad term that includes all kinds of people, ideals, values and traditions, some like to stereotype and single out certain qualities found in this giant mixing pot. The most common stereotype of Western Civilization is that everyone tries to be someone they’re not. While some do not believe this stereotype, others do; in this case that one person is Holden Caulfield from J.D Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. Holden believes that everyone he meets is a phony; someone who is arrogant, doesn’t realize that their actions can hurt others and is no longer…show more content…
Readers are not given any additional information or opinions about what Holden is experiencing during his three day journey through New York City. This limited first person point of view makes it difficult for readers to believe everything Holden says, in view of the fact that Holden can be a biased narrator and skews what information he’s presenting to them. Readers can see that Holden selectively tells them what he does and does not want them to know when he admits on the very first page that he “doesn’t feel like going into it” when talking about his childhood and parents (Salinger 1). The information he tells readers later on about his parents portrays them as neglectful and hypocritical, when in all actuality they may be devoted and caring parents. Holden’s perception of his parents is influenced by his own opinions and biases about conformity and society. Readers also do not always get a full description of the events going on around him. During the climax of the novel, when Holden meets with Mr. Antolini, Holden abruptly leaves because he woke up to find Mr. Antolini “petting” him on his head (Salinger 192). Some critics speculate that it was a sexual advance on Holden, but others disagree and say it was only a drunken mistake. However, with no further description from Holden of what happened, readers are left to make their own judgments. Salinger does however set up the scene so that…show more content…
Holden’s description of a phony is someone who does not acknowledge their own flaws and deceptions. Phonies hurt others and are completely ignorant to how their choices affect everyone else. Holden consistently judges others for their flaws and shallowness, but never reflects on his own flaws. He lies and deceives other throughout the novel; for example, when he takes the train into New York City he tells the mother of a boy he went to school with that he has a brain tumor. He feels guilty for his actions but two chapters later Holden tries to deceive a waiter into serving him a jack and coke when he is under twenty one. Holden understands why the waiter does not serve him, but never thinks about how if he had actually fooled him, that man could have lost his job. Holden ironically proves that he is a phony too through his actions. The consistent theme of deception throughout The Catcher in the Rye again makes readers question if because Holden is inevitably a phony by his own definition, does that mean the rest of the people he encounters are actually

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