Not once while reading The Catcher in the Rye did I ever think Holden was anything except an annoying whiny little shit and I don’t understand how you can see him in any other light
Because no one whom Holden calls a phony during the narrative is anything less than totally insufferable; the unifying characteristic of everything and everyone described as phony is self-deception, hypocrisy, and unabashed insincerity. Consider the following excerpt:
" There was this one boy at Elkton Hills, named James Castle, that wouldn’t take back something he said about this very conceited boy, Phil Stabile. James Castle called him a very conceited guy, and one of Stabile’s lousy friends went and squealed on him to Stabile. So Stabile, with about six other dirty bastards, went down to James Castle’s room and went in and locked the goddam door and tried to make him take back what he said, but he wouldn’t do it. So they started in on him. I won’t even tell you what they did to him—it’s too repulsive—but he still wouldn’t take it back, old James Castle. And you should’ve seen him. He was a skinny little weak-looking guy, with wrists about as big as pencils. Finally, what he did, instead of taking back what he said, he jumped out the window. I was in the shower and all, and even I could hear him land outside. But I just thought something fell out the window, a radio or a desk or something, not a boy or anything. Then I heard everybody running through the corridor and down the stairs, so I put on my bathrobe and I ran downstairs too, and there was old James Castle laying right on the stone steps and all. He was dead, and his teeth, and blood, were all over the place, and nobody would even go near him. He had on this turtleneck sweater I’d lent him. All they did with the guys that were in the room with him was expel them. They didn’t even go to jail."
Holden’s opinions and actions stem from his overbearing idealism. He loves the world too much, and hates to see it filled with the type of people he considers “phony”. Holden might not be perfect, but he’s far from a hypocrite.
It’s also worth noting that the people trying in earnest to help him (his teacher, etc.) never once receive the p-word.