Everyone knows and wants the all too true American dream, to be or wants to be something that is better than what you are or have already. In The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, Holden Caulfield is an idealist who always envisions his life as it should be, and not as it truly is. It is the story of an emotionally disturbed sixteen-year-old boy; told through a flashback. In an attempt to deal with his problems and try to find himself, he leaves the school, which he was kicked out of to vacation alone in New York City. Holdens view of adults is not likely of a boy his age. While most teenagers Holdens age see adults as role models, Holden perceives adults as phonies which always depress him. Although Holden is shown as immature and inconsiderate; he is also a nurturer. He takes very good care of his sister Phoebe, and puts a lot of trust in her. He sees all children as beautiful and helpless. As an idealist, he thinks he can go forever. Through out the novel the reader sees Holden as an idealist, always wanting what he can never have, and striving to always obtain what he wants out of his life.
Holdens views of adults are very unlikely for a boy his age. Holden looks up to
no one, and sees all adults as phonies and hopes to never become like that. . He
feels sorry for all of the phony and depressing people in the world, especially his parents. The two people Holden should look up to the most in the world he clearly despises. His father is a lawyer and therefore he considers him phony because he views his fathers occupation as demoralizing. Holden says, Lawyers are all right, I guess, but it doesnt appeal to me. All they do is make a lot of dough and play golf and play bridge and buy cars and drink Martinis and look like hotshots. How would you know you werent being phony? The trouble is you wouldnt. (172). Therefore doesnt like to talk to them, and thinks that they do not and will never understand him. Although he does not care for his parents, he still pities them. Holden feels sorry for almost every adult that he comes in contact with. From the minute that Holden walks into Mr. Spencers room he is already sorry that he came. There were pills and medicine all over the place, and everything smelled like Vicks Nose drops. It was pretty depressing.(.7). Just the sight of Mr. Spencer made Holden ill and depressed. He tells Mr. Spencer that he had talked to Dr. Thurmer and he said, Life is a game, and one should play according to the rules. (8) This quote is ironic to Holden since he never believes that life is a game. He believes the exact opposite, that life is very serious and he doesnt accept the rules set before him by phony adults. He continues to tell Mr.Spencer that his parents will be very irritated by the news that he had been kicked out yet again. Considering he had already been kicked out of about four different schools. Holden then states that he tends to act very
young for his age, being sixteen then and saying he tends to act thirteen, even though he has gray hair.
Holden even sees kids his own age as fake and depressing adolescence like himself. He cannot stand his roommate Stradtler and despises his sometimes companion at Pencey, Ackley. Holden hates and at the same time wishes to become Stradtler. Stradtler is everything Holden says he hates and never wants to be, but in reality it is a cover-up. Meanwhile, Ackley, whom he should feel sympathy for, is an annoying pest that Holden cannot wait to get out of his room. His cruelty and frustration towards people his age leads him to feel even greater hatred to adults around him.
In an Editorial Review from Amazon.com a writer stated Holdens constantly wry observations about what he encounters, from teachers to phonies (the two of course are not mutually exclusive) capture the essence of the eternal teenage experience