Is Holden a reliable narrator?
From what I have read of this novel my best guess is no, Holden cannot adequately give the story a view of the facts but rather a skewed view of the world from his pessimistic point of view. The world in his eyes is full of problems, many of them being benign. Holden doesn’t like much of anything as he has illustrated to us in many of his judgmental paragraphs critiquing small things. This I believe creates little plot and creates a sense of boredom for the reader. Now I am in favor completely with pessimistic commentary on ones surroundings like in Crime and Punishment where Rodya the narrator indeed criticize and complain much. But the difference between Rodya and Holden is that Rodya is starving, lives in a closet, and is poor and hasn’t seen his family in a year, now Holden is just an angst filled teen who is failing because he is lazy and he just doesn’t care. Holden not only has a skewed outlook because of his distaste in life itself, he also told us flat out he is a liar. So what is preventing him from lying the whole way through, is there really an Allie? Essentially we cannot believe anything he says or take anything as seriously as he presents it.
Now I am fully opposed to having Holden be the narrator, but to fully understand the point I am trying to make you must look at the other side. The other side being that Holden is actually the best narrator because of his brutal straightforward approach to life. His blatant criticism of life may be just pointing out the sad facts of life. This argument can definitely be made but alas it is not a very strong argument for this reason.
If Holden would be critical of life as a whole criticizing how society works and how humans interact etc. Taking a more philosophical approach to his cynicism I would be alright with that. Holden does not take that approach he just complains and complains and complains about the most pointless things that aren’t even relevant to his well being or himself. So all in all Holden is just a mean kid who doesn’t care for anyone, lies and relentlessly complains.
So no he is not.