The Catcher in the Rye

What does Holden's reaction to Mr. Antolini's touching him represent to Holden? What does it show the audience about Holden's troubles and inner conflicts>


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When Holden awakens to find Mr. Antolini touching his head, he immediately concludes the worst, suspecting him of "flitty" behavior. However, Holden is a notoriously unreliable narrator, coming to Mr. Antolini's apartment inherently suspicious of all adults and perhaps still drunk from the evening's escapades.

It seems questionable that Mr. Antolini had any malicious intent, yet Holden suspects the worst. Here is Holden's 'last adult refuge in a disintegrating world,' and yet once again Holden must escape from a situation to avoid any sort of difficult confrontation (Graham 25). Holden can now dismiss Mr. Antolini's advice to him, for he can now perceive this once-respected teacher as a predator. At the same time, if Mr. Antolini was making advances on Holden, then it's clear that perhaps Holden is right about the world - that it's incapable of offering true love, only phony attempts at connection coupled with arbitrary pain.