The Catcher in the Rye Summary of Chunk 8 (Chapters 21 - 23)
by J.D. Salinger

Holden walks back from the park to his family's apartment and sneaks into D.B.'s room, where Phoebe is sleeping. His parents aren't home, so he turns on the lamp and goes through her school stuff, reading her notebook. "I felt swell, for a change," he mentions.

Finally, he wakes up Phoebe, who is glad to see him, and then begin to talk. Quickly, however, Phoebe guesses correctly that Holden was kicked out of Pencey and begins to get upset. "You don't like anything that's happening," she accuses. "You don't like any schools. You don't like a million things. You don't." For the first time, we see Holden open up to somebody and he tries to explain to her why he left Pencey and what he wants out of life.

Finally, in response to Phoebe's questioning, Holden tells her what he really wants to be is a "catcher in the rye": "Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around-nobody big, I mean-except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff-I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them."

Holden's parents, however, will be coming home soon, so Holden quickly telephones an old teacher, Mr. Antolini, to arrange a place to stay for the night. When Holden's parents come home he hides in a closet until they're in their bedroom. He quietly asks Phoebe for borrow two dollars, and she presses eight into his hand and refuses to take it back. Holden begins to cry, and Phoebe comforts him. At the end of the section, Holden has left for Mr. Antolini's in considerably better spirits than when he arrived at home.

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