The Catcher in the Rye
J. D. Salinger
Contributed by Marinda Dreiling
Chapter 25

At this point, Holden’s at rock bottom. He goes to Grand Central and sleeps on a bench, more depressed than he’s ever been. When he wakes up, he thinks maybe he jumped to conclusions about Mr. Antolini’s behavior, though he’s suspicious because he always seems to be the recipient of "perverty behavior."

It’s only a few days before Christmas, and Holden walks through the city, filled with memories and sadness. He says,

"I kept walking and walking up Fifth Avenue, without any tie on or anything. Then all of a sudden, something very spooky started happening. Every time I came to the end of a block and stepped off the goddam curb, I had this feeling that I’d never get to the other side of the street. I thought I’d just go down, down, down, and nobody’d ever see me again." Chapter 25, pg. 197

This spooks Holden out, and he starts thinking about his dead brother Allie again, asking Allie not to let him disappear. It’s now that Holden decides he’s not going back home or back to any school, he’ll go out West, get a job pumping gas, and live in a cabin. He also says,

"I thought what I’d do was, I’d pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes. That way I wouldn’t have to have any goddam stupid useless conversations with anybody. If anybody wanted to tell me something, they’d have to write it on a piece of paper and shove it over to me. They’d get bored as hell doing that after a while, and then I’d be through with having conversations for the rest of my life." Chapter 25, pg. 198

Before he leaves, Holden wants to see Phoebe one last time, so he heads to her school with a note asking her to meet him at the art museum at lunchtime. While he’s at the school, delivering the note, he sees ’Fuck you’ written in two places, and this infuriates him. At the museum, where Holden leads a couple of little kids playing hooky in the direction of the mummy display, he sees the profanity written for the third time. This seems to say a lot about the world to Holden.

"That’s the whole trouble. You can’t ever find a place that’s nice and peaceful, because there isn’t any. You may think there is, but once you get there, when you’re not looking, somebody’ll sneak up and write ’Fuck you’ right under your nose." Chapter 25, pg. 204

Phoebe shows at the appointed meeting place, dragging a big suitcase. She tells Holden she wants to come with him, news that makes Holden oddly furious. He tells Phoebe that she’s supposed to be in the Christmas play, and that there’s no way she’s coming along. Phoebe gets mad and tosses Holden’s red hunting hat at him. In what seems like an attempt to assuage her, Holden tells her that he’s not going West, he’s changed his mind and will go home if she goes back to school.

Holden suggests she skip school that afternoon and hang out with him, though Phoebe’s so mad that she won’t walk on the same side of the street with her brother. At the zoo, in front of the carrousel, she finally softens up a bit. It’s one of those carrousels with a gold ring that kids make a grab for, and Phoebe rides it while Holden sits watching, even after it starts pouring rain. He finally feels better. In fact, watching Phoebe, he’s "damn happy" (pg. 213) and he seems to have come to a new conclusion about innocence and childhood.

"The thing with kids is, if they want to grab for the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and not say anything. If they fall off, they fall off, but it’s bad if you say anything to them." Chapter 25, pg. 211

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