Chapters 24 to 26
goes to Mr. Antolini's apartment expecting to receive sympathy and
understanding. Holden tells him that rules at Pencey are too strict
and squelch creativity. Instead of agreeing with him Mr. Antolini
points the fallacies for this argument and Holden backs down. After
having coffee, Mr. Antolini becomes more serious and tries to warn
Holden that he sees major problems in his future unless he learns
to apply himself and learns to face his issues.
He tells him that he is not the only young man to have problems
with the onset of adulthood, but that the must try and make an effort
to apply himself in school if he is to have any future. Only in
this way can he learn more about the world and the workings of his
Feeling very tired Holden goes to sleep on the couch. He is startled
when he suddenly feels Mr. Antolini's hand stroking his head. Feeling
uncomfortable after that, Holden leaves the apartment in a hurry.
Holden is unsure where to go. On impulse it seems, Holden decides
to go out west to find a new start and wants to meet Phoebe for
the last time to say goodbye.
The rest of the chapter involves Holden going to Phoebe's school
to deliver the message to meet him in the museum. While inside,
Holden tries to erase dirty graffiti messages to protect the minds
of the innocent elementary children. At the museum, he comforts
a couple of small boys who are frightened to see the mummies. Now
he is really becoming a catcher in the rye.
Later, Holden and Phoebe meet and have an argument about him going
out west. Eventually Holden gives in and decides not to go. Instead
he goes to the zoo with Phoebe and the scene ends with her riding
on the carousel alone while Holden watches her, again acting as
a catcher in the rye.
Salinger's last chapter is really not much of a chapter, but just
a brief commentary note to the reader by Holden, who provides an
update of his current plans. As usual, he isn't really sure what
those plans are, not knowing whether or not he'll apply himself
in school next fall.
leaves Mr. Antolini's house dazed and confused, yet still unwilling
to judge him without knowing all the facts. Unlike previous situations
in the dorm where Holden is quick to judge others, this time the
boy refrains from thinking anything about Mr. Antolini. This marks
a progression in Holden's growth as a person and especially as a
catcher in the rye. Holden simply absorbs everything around him,
both good and bad, being unable and unwilling to judge between good
and evil anymore. Holden will try to save all the children, not
just the good ones.
There are some interesting scenes with Phoebe whose actions clearly
stop her disturbed brother embarking on his hitchhiking trek out
West. He has a chance to act the part of a 'catcher in the rye'
even whilst falling apart at the seams psychologically. He realizes
this because if Phoebe went with him hitchhiking this would destroy
her innocence and his peculiar behavior would prove harmful as well.
He, therefore, decides to stay and protect his sister from the pain
of the real world and save her from the fall over the cliff into
The final scene is taken up with Holden watching his sister on the
merry-go-round and suddenly he is deliriously happy witnessing the
scene of childhood happiness and innocence with no intrusion from
the ugly, adult world.
Finally, although Holden refuses to talk more about his story, a
few important details are obtained. He was sent from his home to
a sanatorium to recover from the breakdown. He will be going to
a new school in the Fall, where it is hoped he will be able to apply
Throughout the whole telling of the tale there is this defensive
cynical tone, and it is clear that Holden was not able to find any
hope in the adult world, which surrounded and finally engulfed him.
At the end of the book, when Holden says that he misses everyone,
even Maurice, the seemingly ruthless archenemy of Holden, it proves
for the last time that Holden has become a true catcher in the rye.
Someone who wants to protect everyone, no matter whether he is good
or evil. Holden can't distinguish between the two and doesn't wish
to. Perhaps he is even trying to protect his most valuable asset:
his own perceptions of others.
Despite all he has gone through, there is still a facet of innocence
in his character, which makes his story so remarkable, and this
may well make the future for Holden more hopeful.