Holden repeatedly has thoughts about life in prep schools and how those who attend must be phonies. Holden does not adjust well to following rules. The idea of doing the same things as everyone else in his school does not appeal to him, so he gives up on trying in hopes of not having to go back to another prep school. Consequently, Holden attends various prep schools that he either flunks out of or gets kicked out. In chapter six, Stradlater says to Holden, “You always do everything backasswords.” He looked at me. “No wonder why you’re flunking the hell out of here,” he said. “You don’t do one damn thing the way you’re supposed to. I mean it. Not one damn thing” (41). Stradlater tries to explain to Holden that compliance would make his and everyone else’s lives much easier. Holden does not want to make his life easier; he wants to make his own choices with his own outlook on things without seeming to succumb to the pressures of society and its conformities. Through Holden’s view, the reader experiences the effect of him being forced to go into prep school resulting in Holden turning away from the idea of emerging exactly like everyone else. At a young age, Holden was most likely exposed to conformity by always having his parents send him away to new schools to have him change. Holden does not want to take the “safe” route by responding to each question the same way as everyone else. In fact, Holden wishes to challenge traditionalism through the idea of being an individual. Each time Holden tries to escape from these “phonies,” it gives you a clue about how he values honesty and his response towards people who don’t have this same value. Holden tries to justify himself to Sally by saying he wants to achieve something different and not just be a phony. “It’s full of phonies, all you do is study so that you can learn enough to be smart enough to be able to buy a goddam Cadillac someday, 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” (131). As his days go by, he realizes that most people in society are not genuine. The truth angers Holden and he daydreams about running away, escaping from society, and living in a cabin away from everybody. This is an unbelievable idea that is barely even an option for him. He decides that he doesn’t fit in society and he doesn’t want to be a part of it. This thought would have never come across Holden’s mind if he was like everybody else, but he isn’t. Holden apparently can’t deal with the situations around him.
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