Date of publication: 2017-07-09 08:40
More specifically, the ducks are a symbol for a helpless animal that has been abandoned in the middle of winter. That Holden wonders about their winter lodgings demonstrates his attention to beings that have been abandoned—and implies that he he has a similar worry for himself. In a sense, Holden is just like the ducks: uncertain of where to go now that he has entered a harsh adult world.
Holden’s answer strikes Phoebe—and likely the reader—as relatively nonsensical. Catching children in the rye is not an actual profession, but perhaps this is why Holden finds it genuine as compared to the phony work done by his parents. Indeed, the way Holden introduces the phrase “Anyway, I keep picturing” indicates that his profession is not based on logical consideration but rather an idealized image of what he would life to look like. This response, then, verifies that Holden sees his life through a cinematic eye and makes choices according to the aesthetics and earnestness of this imagined film.
When Holden goes to Phoebe’s school, he sees this note written on the wall. He becomes furious in response and tries desperately to remove the profane language.
When Holden complains about the other students at Pencey, Phoebe challenges him to name something he likes. She pokes fun at his misanthropic behavior, showing that Holden’s critical views are equally and unfairly applied to everything.
&ldquo Phoniness,&rdquo which is probably the most famous phrase from The Catcher in the Rye, is one of Holden&rsquo s favorite concepts. It is his catch-all for describing the superficiality, hypocrisy, pretension, and shallowness that he encounters in the world around him. In Chapter 77, just before he reveals his fantasy of the catcher in the rye, Holden explains that adults are inevitably phonies, and, what&rsquo s worse, they can&rsquo t see their own phoniness. Phoniness, for Holden, stands as an emblem of everything that&rsquo s wrong in the world around him and provides an excuse for him to withdraw into his cynical isolation.
Though the reader should be skeptical of Holden’s repeated use of the word “crazy” by now, it is evident that the words move him into a state of intense anger. His anger comes, as usual, from a envisioned scene: the kids reading the words and then learning their significance. For Holden, this moment stands for their corruption and their permanent departure from childhood into adolescence. Holden himself often swears, demonstrating that he has no direct issue with this language as such. Rather, he hates the effect it would have on the kids, reinforcing the way Holden wants to play a protective “catcher” role for children.
This point of view marks a striking inversion in Holden’s character. Before, he praised the role of the catcher in the rye: a figure who would have prevented any children from falling. Yet here, despite the fear “she’d fall off the goddamn horse,” Holden believes that his inaction is actually preferable. He implies that being overly protective actually serves children badly and that they must be allowed to make their own mistakes.
When the prostitute Sunny comes to Holden’s room, his fear develops into depression and paralysis. Holden declines to have sex and explains, here, that the refusal comes from how sad he found the scene.
Holden’s statements are a complicated combination of abhorrent sexism and refreshing earnestness. On one hand, it is relieving to see him say with relish “you never know where the hell you are”—for this sense of reckless abandon seems a hard-fought battle from Holden’s tendency to judge everything as “phony.” Indeed, becoming “knocked out" or “crazy” might be taken as an accomplishment for Holden, perhaps even as a sign of maturity considering it marks an interest in women.
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