The Catcher in the Rye
Lies and Deceit Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
She had a terrifically nice smile. She really did. Most people have hardly any smile at all, or a lousy one. "Ernest's father and I sometimes worry about him," she said. "We sometimes feel he's not a terribly good mixer."
"How do you mean?"
"Well. He's a very sensitive boy. He's really never been a terribly good mixer with other boys. Perhaps he takes things a little more seriously than he should at his age."
Sensitive. That killed me. That guy Morrow was about as sensitive as a goddam toilet seat. (8.9-23)
Holden knows Ernest is a jerk, but he indulges Mrs. Morrow anyway. She’s deceiving herself; he’s letting her deceive herself; and he’s, well, deceiving her. And he’s doing it just to be nice. Important lesson: sometimes you have to lie to be nice. Is this part of why Holden seems to hate everything so much—because either you’re an honest jerk or a lying nice boy?
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?