Phoniness: The True Face And The False Face
What happen if everyone in the world is wearing a mask?
That is exactly what this world is; everyone wears a mask. Most
people we see every day have their true identity hidden behind a
facade. Although a true identity cannot be divulge just by looking,
but with a careful scrutiny of one's character will reveal to what
is behind the facade. Equivalent to what happened in J.D. Salinger's
novel The Catcher in the Rye.
Holden Caulfield, a typical teenager in the 50's with a
morally loose, rude and obscene personality. However, his rudeness is
just a mask that he uses to cover his decent, sympathetic, and mature
character inside. Throughout the entire story, Holden uses unchaste
language to offense himself. The use of these words may insult the
reader, but the truth is, he is building a facade so that he can obtain
the approval he feels they have oppose him thus far. As a teenager,
the critical period of his life, Holden struggled to find the meaning
of life, and his survival, they easily depressed Holden demands their
company, even though he calls them "phonies." Holden is really a decent
and mature teenager, but he only hides behind the false front to obtain
the approval. In the meantime, he tries to find the meaning of his
existence. There's Holden's false front, a rude and without standard
teen, but what's behind it are important. A decent, sympathetic and
mature teen lies behind the mask. The only time he reveals these
distinctions is when he comes to some points and some people, especially
children. For example, when Holden decide to go to the west, he wrote
a note to Phoebe to tell her that meets him at the museum. While he
was waiting, there's two kids that came up and asked Holden where is
the mummies, he stated:
". . . The one little kid, the one that asked me, had his pants
open. I told him about it. So he buttoned them up right
where he was standing talking to me--he didn't even bother
to go behind a post or anything. I would've laughed . . ."
In addition, Holden displayed maturity at one point. A
positive incident took place with his old girl friend, Jane Gallagher.
While Holden and Jane were playing checkers, Mr. Cudahy, Jane's
stepfather, asked Jane if there's any cigarettes in the house. Jane
didn't answer, so he left. Then Jane dropped a tear on the checkerboard.
It bothered Holden for a while. Then Jane began to cry, and Holden
kissed her. He also asked if Mr. Cudahy ". . . had ever tried to get
wise with her." Jane replied no, although, Holden still remain concerned
on every problem she had. Holden's maturity shows us he has a grown-up
heart behind the mask.
Furthermore, Holden also demonstrate his sensitivity, especially
on children. For instance, Holden's brother, Allie, and his sister,
Phoebe, had a major impact on Holden. He loves Phoebe, his little sister.
He loved her so much, he says: "You never saw a little kid so pretty and
smart in your whole life." Then when Holden decided to go west, Phoebe
wanted to go with him. That's when he knows he needs to face the true
self, his reality. He also delighted by his younger brother, Allie. He
stated that Allie is a nice boy. Allie loved to write poems, so he wrote
poetry all over his own baseball mitt. Holden kept Allie's baseball mitt
after Allie died of leukemia. When his brother died, Holden was so upset
that he broke all the windows in the garage with his fists. Subsequently,
Holden wanted to be the "Catcher in the Rye," but he now realized that he
cannot "catch (or safe) all the children that started to go over the cliff."
Thus, Holden's mask is just a false front, a facade. But what's
behind it is the most important. He uses the language to find the meaning
of life, his existence. The true Holden shows his decent heart, sympathy