The Catcher in the Rye

Catcher in the rye

What new insight about holden's school failure does holden's explanation to phoebe about his expulsion give the reader?

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Phoebe tells Holden that she thinks his scheme to go out to Colorado is foolish, and asks why he failed out of yet another school. He claims that Pencey is full of phonies. He tells her about how everyone excluded Robert Ackley as a sign of how phony the students are. Holden admits that there were a couple of nice teachers, including Mr. Spencer, but then complains about the Veterans' Day ceremonies.

In Chapter 22, of all of the characters in The Catcher in the Rye, Phoebe ranks with Carl Luce and Mr. Spencer as one of the most mature and perceptive. She realizes that Holden's major problem is his overwhelmingly negative attitude toward everything and everyone around him and confronts him on this attitude. When Holden talks with Phoebe, he once again reveals his hypocrisy. He laments that everyone at Pencey excluded Robert Ackley, yet Holden himself loathed Ackley, considering him boorish and obnoxious. Significantly, Holden has difficulty finding an answer to the question of what he actually likes. When he does think of a response to that question, his answers are both questionable and disturbing. That Holden appreciates the suicide of James Castle indicates his own emotional state and gives greater credence to earlier foreshadowing that Holden himself will attempt to kill himself. Holden attaches some sense of nobility to death, which he additionally shows through his idealization of Allie. This also relates to Holden's sentimental feelings about childhood. His dream of becoming a "catcher in the rye" shows that Holden has an affection for childhood. He wishes to save these children from danger so that they may frolic in the fields; one can interpret this as Holden's wish to save the children from the difficulties of adulthood.

Holden responds to Phoebe's confrontation by preparing to leave the house. This continues a pattern for Holden: he escapes responsbility, whether leaving a club early when he sees someone he dislikes or running away from boarding school. When Holden faces something that he dislikes, he cannot confront it; instead, he chooses to leave for another random destination, whether New England or Colorado.