The Catcher in the Rye
by J. D. Salinger
The Catcher in the Rye Chapter 17 Quotes
How we cite the quotes:
"You ought to go to a boys' school sometime. Try it sometime," I said. "It's full of phonies, and all you do is study so that you can learn enough to be smart enough to be able to buy a goddam Cadillac some day, and you have to keep making believe you give a damn if the football team loses, and all you do is talk about girls and liquor and sex all day, and everybody sticks together in these dirty little goddam cliques." (17. 46)
Holden thinks that the whole point of education is to make you rich, so it’s inherently phony. To which we say—try being poor, Holden, and then turn up your nose at Cadillacs.
At the end of the first act we went out with all the other jerks for a cigarette. What a deal that was. You never saw so many phonies in all your life, everybody smoking their ears off and talking about the play so that everybody could hear and know how sharp they were. Some dopey movie actor was standing near us, having a cigarette. […] He was with some gorgeous blonde, and the two of them were trying to be very blasé and all, like as if he didn't even know people were looking at him. Modest as hell. I got a big bang out of it. (17.14)
Oh, yeah, Holden is practically ROFLing with how funny he finds this. It’s like he’s trying to find all the phoniness amusing, but the bitterness just keeps seeping through.
Then all of a sudden, she saw some jerk she knew on the other side of the lobby. Some guy in one of those very dark gray flannel suits and one of those checkered vests. Strictly Ivy League. Big deal. […] Finally, though, the jerk noticed her and came over and said hello. You should've seen the way they said hello. You'd have thought they hadn't seen each other in twenty years. […] The funny part was, they probably met each other just once, at some phony party. (17.14)
Speaking of parties, Holden sounds like he’d be really fun at one. Not. What we want to know is—why does he care so much whether this dumb guy is being phony?