J.D. Salinger describes Holden, in The Catcher in the Rye, as a character who is very critical of his roommates, school, and other people because he feels they do not benefit anyone, or the world in general, in any way. For example, he criticizes Stradlater, his roommate, as "spend[ing] around half his goddam life in front of the mirror" (Salinger 33). Holden doesn't think that Stradlater looking in front of the mirror at himself will help any one in any way so he rejects it. In addition, he is cynical of Stradlater because he thinks that Stradlater should be out trying to help the world instead of staring at himself in the mirror. He also criticizes his older school, Elkton Hills. Holden describes his experience there as being "surrounded by phonies" (13). He particularly describes the headmaster as "the phoniest bastard" (13). Holden uses these words to describe the headmaster in this way because he feels that the headmaster's attitude and truthfulness to parents of school children was discriminated. Further more, Holden thinks this attitude doesn't benefit anyone to act in this way. Holden is also very critical of adults that are wealthy or in high positions. For example, he describes Ossenburger, a financially successful business man, as being a "big phony bastard" (17). He describes Ossenburger to the reader because he feels that Ossenburger is a lying, filthy-rich, "hot-shot" (17). Furthermore, he thinks that Ossenburger cheated his way to acquiring his large fortune and that he lied to the students by telling them that he prays to God very frequently. That is how in The Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger describes Holden as someone who is very analytical of his roommates, school, and other people because he feels they do not benefit the world in any way.

In The Catcher the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, Holden is described as a character who is often hypocritical about religion and his sexual life. For example, when Holden is alone in his hotel room he tells the reader that "[he] felt like praying" but "[he] couldn't do it" (Salinger 99). He later says that "[he] can't always pray when [he] feels like it" and that "[he] is sort of an atheist" (99). It is likely that Holden wants to pray because he is in a very depressed mood but then he contradicts himself by saying that he is an atheist, one who doesn't believe in deities. Holden can't pray to anything if he doesn't believe in it. He claims the reason is because he doesn't feel in the mood for it. He may be switching between an atheist and theist because he feels insecure about his life. Another example of Holden's hypocritical behavior is used by Salinger is when Holden is justifying being with a prostitute as "get[ting] in some practicing on her, in case [he] ever get[s] married" (92). He also was very eager to "get it over with" (93). But later Holden tells the prostitute that "[he] just didn't want to do it." Holden becomes hesitant with the prostitute when he finds that she was only there to finish her job and get out of Holden's hotel room. He was hoping that she would be more open to talking first and getting to know each other. Holden was very eager before the prostitute came in, but after he found out that the prostitute wasn't "his type," he got cold feet and told the prostitute that he did not want to do anything with her. That is how in The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger is able to describe Holden as a very hypocritical person.