Essay Questions for The Catcher in the Rye: In what ways does Holden not understand his own feelings?
Topic Sentence: In The Catcher in the Rye, Salinger does an expert job of showing how Holden observes things, yet fails to understand them.
Evidence #1: As Holden narrates his experience in the night club at the Edmont Hotel, he attempts to present himself as suave and sophisticated.
Analysis: The mocking behavior of the three women whom he attempts to impress, however, indicate that Holden looks like a jackass.
Analysis: Add in the fact that the waiter refuses to serve him alcohol, despite Holden's insistence that he looks older than he is, shows he fails to understand the significance of the events in his life.
Evidence #2: Holden cannot make sense of his depression and frequent crying.
Analysis: The reader understands that Holden is experiencing a mental breakdown and engaging in self-destructive behavior.
Analysis: Holden fails to recognize that he is the cause of his isolation and suffering, that he brings torment with him wherever he goes.
Conclusion: The reader, unlike Holden, recognizes a contrast between Holden's ideals and Holden's actions, making him just as "phony" as the "phonies" he criticizes.