The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Analysis of Chunk 10 (Chapters 25 - 26)

Holden's sensation of sinking down into the street could be a physical manifestation of Mr. Antolini's lecture about his being set up for a great fall. It may also be a reflection of Holden's fall from perceived innocence. Having accepted that he is no longer a child, Holden may feel his own expulsion from his sanctuary in the rye. "But I kept on going and all," he notes, "I was sort of afraid to stop, I think." His perseverance may be what saves Holden from ultimate disillusionment in the end.

Holden's fantasy of going out West reflects two aspects of his personality. First, he wishes to ostracize himself from society, as seen by his deaf-mute idea. It also reflects the old American Dream of striking new ground out West. Perhaps Holden is using this journey as a substitution for something more difficult: seeking out a new frontier in himself (i.e. seeking change).

The "Fuck You" words scratched everywhere demonstrate to Holden the impossibility of the task he has made for himself. "If you had a million years to do it in, you couldn't rub out even half the 'Fuck you' signs in the world. It's impossible," he notes. In a way, the vulgar words may symbolize the end of innocence, and Holden's inability to wipe them out reflects the impossibility of preserving childhood's innocence. Holden acknowledges this impossibility, and is thus forced to seek out a more realistic goal for himself.

Holden's refusal to let Phoebe join him on his trip out West stems from a fear that she won't grow up when with him. Something has changed in Holden, for by refusing her into his sanctuary, he acknowledges that children must grow up. It is the rejection of this sanctuary which ultimately makes Holden change his mind and decide to stay. But Holden does more than just this. When he affirms Phoebe's question "You really arne't going away anywhere?" we get the feeling that by not going anywhere, Holden has decided to quit running from his problems and may start looking inside of himself instead.

The scene with Phoebe at the carousel deserves some explanation. Carousels used to have a gold ring in the center which children could grab for as a prize. Here, Holden makes the ultimate gesture demonstrating that he finds his dream of being the "catcher in the rye" both impossible and undesirable: "All the kids kept trying to grab for the gold ring, and so was old Phoebe, and I was sort of afraid she'd fall off the goddam horse, but I didn't say anything or do anything. . . . If they fall off, they fall off, but it's bad if you say anything to them." In letting Phoebe go, despite the possibility that she might "fall," Holden acknowledges that her future is her choice, not his. Falling off the cliff does not necessarily lead to phoniness, and Holden has realized that children must make their own decisions. Here, the sight of Phoebe going around and around on the carousel cheers him up because it seems as if she will never go anywhere-that she will never change.

The last line of the story before the epilogue is "God, I wish you could've been there," and expresses Holden's wish to share his ideas with others. He has not accepted the falseness of society, which Mr. Antolini warns against. Instead, we find him still in that original position against it, but in a healthier way. He has accepted his position in society and he as accepted the inevitability of a child's loss of innocence. His role then, is that of a person communicating to others the struggle for integrity.

The epilogue is an optimistic one in which Holden, in his writing, realizes he misses those that he deemed phony. Perhaps there was more to his relationships than the phoniness he criticizes, for her certainly doesn't miss that. Perhaps what matters most is that he did indeed interact with another person.

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