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Akira Yang

Mrs. Guerin
Catcher in the Rye Final Essay
In The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield is unable to cope with the complexity of the
adult world, thus creating many conflicts both with himself, and the people around him. From
Holden‟s perspective, adults are phony, perverted, and deceitful. But despite his view of the
adults as phonies and liars, he himself also lies. Holden created a persona made from the lies he
has told. Holden‟s problem of deceiving those around him to protect himself is still experienced
by teenagers today.
Holden‟s problem of deceiving those around him has created his personality. In other
words, he has built his life on the lies he has told. An example of his lies is with the mother of
Ernest Morrow. “„Oh, how lovely! Perhaps you know my son, then, Ernest Morrow? He goes to
„Yes, I do. He‟s in my class.‟
Her son was doubtless the biggest bastard that ever went to Pency, in the whole crumby history
of the school. He was always going down the corridor, after he‟d had a shower, snapping his
soggy old wet towel at people‟s asses. That‟s exactly the kind of guy he was.
„Oh, how nice!‟ the lady said. But not corny. She was just nice and all. „I must tell Ernest we
met,‟ she said. „May I ask your name, dear?‟
“Rudolf Schmidt,‟ I told her. I didn‟t feel like giving her my whole life history. Rudolf Schmidt
was the name of the janitor of our dorm.” (Salinger 54). Holden had no reason to lie to her, but
he does anyways. It is not like he is running away from the school, and he is not in any kind of
trouble at the moment. He lies because he does not “feel” like telling the truth.
Another problem Holden has with his lying is that now that he has built his entire life off
of lies, he cannot stop lying. After having a conversation with Ernest Morrow‟s mother and lying
to her about having to have surgery for a brain tumor, he states that he cannot stop lying once he
starts. “Then I started reading this timetable I had in my pocket. Just to stop lying. Once I started,
I can go on for hours if I feel like it. No kidding. Hours.” (Salinger 58). Here, Holden himself
says that he cannot stop lying, showing that the lies have completely taken over his life.
This problem is still present in teenagers today. To many teenagers, lying seems to be the
easy way to get out of trouble or to get to do something that has been disallowed. But there are
many consequences to lying, one being that the “easy way out” turns out to be extremely
expensive, particularly for teenagers who have gone so deep into lying that they feel trapped in a
world of their own fabrication. What begins as lying to others ends up as lying to themselves as
liars lose track of what really happened and come to believe some of the untruths they have told.
A reason for teenage lying, as stated by Dr. Shefali Tsubary, “There is only one reason a child
lies to its parents: the conditions for it to feel safe have not been created.” If the teen does not
feel safe, he/she will lie in order to get that feel of safety, but once a lie is told, it is very hard to
keep the story going. A letter from an upset mother to Dr. Laura says, “I have an 18 year old
daughter who lies a lot and does not want me to ask her anything. I am always catching her in a
lie and she does not listen to what others have to say, all the time. She just lies to go along with
you, sometimes just to get you out of her face and leave her alone. I am a 59 year old mother and
I am at my end about this girl.” Teens who lie will often try to avoid questions and keep from
being found out, leading to them distancing themselves from those to whom the lies were told.
They become isolated from family and friends they have deliberately lied to, cutting off
closeness to those they care about and love.
In conclusion, Holden‟s problem of lying to the people around him is still present in
teenagers today. The lies told to others eventually take their toll on the liars who told the lies, and
it becomes harder to distinguish between truth and lie. Both Holden and modern day teenagers
who lie hurt those around them from lying, making it seem as if they are manipulating the people
around them into believing their lies and taking advantage of the trust placed into them.

Works Cited
Markham, Laura, Dr. "Ask the Doctor - Answers to Your Parenting Questions."Teenager
Lies to Mom Constantly. Dr. Laura Markham, n.d. Web. 01 Oct. 2014.
Pickhardt, Carl E., Ph.D. "Adolescent Lying: What It Costs and What to Do."Psychology
Today: Health, Help, Happiness + Find a Therapist. Sussex Publishers, Feb.-Mar. 2009. Web.
01 Oct. 2014.
Salinger, J. D. The Catcher in the Rye. New York: Little, Brown, 1991. Print.

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