preview

Holden Caulfield A Liar

Decent Essays
Throughout J.D. Salinger’s quintessential novel, The Catcher in the Rye, the protagonist is a self-proclaimed habitual liar. Holden Caulfield admits early on in the story that he rarely ever tells the truth when he says in his narration that he is “…the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life. It's awful. If I'm on my way to the store to buy a magazine, even, and somebody asks me where I'm going, I'm liable to say I'm going to the opera. It's terrible.” (Salinger 9) This single statement throws everything in the entire story into doubt. However, there are very specific occurrences of story elements that provide a sort of window to Holden’s true thoughts on his surroundings. These particular symbols are the only real way to gain an insight…show more content…
Between the bars, prostitutes, and perversities that Holden encounters during his time in New York City, it swiftly becomes clear that the adult world that Holden is forced to live in is a dark, uncaring, vile place. However, the one example of all the horrors of the adult world that stands out the most is the obscene graffiti scrawled on a wall of Phoebe’s school. Continuing the theme of wanting to protect the innocence of children, Holden feels absolutely disgusted with whoever wrote it, describing the person as “some perverty bum” (Salinger, 108). Holden’s fury with the hypothetical offender even grows to the point that he wishes to murder the man. While Holden’s intentions are noble (albeit extreme), they can also be interpreted as misguided. His assumption that a homeless man with perverted intentions broke into the school is unlikely, to say the least. In fact, it’s infinitely more likely that the graffiti was left by a rude child at Phoebe’s school who has unfortunately been exposed to the adult world Holden so despises. However, Holden is completely unable to come to this conclusion. “In his world, children are innocent and adults corrupt. While this keeps everything nice and simple in Holden's mind, it also makes it impossible for him to really understand the process of growing-up” (Shmoop Editorial Team). Holden is so desperate to keep his worldview that all children are innocent that his mind completely shuts out the possibility of children who have learned of the monstrosity of the adult world, not wanting to believe that kids have snuck past him in his role as a proverbial Catcher in the Rye. Furthermore, the appearance of the salacious vandalism occurs near the end of the novel, when Holden is on the verge of a breakdown. The precise moment in the story where
Get Access