Holden finally decides to go home and is happy to find that his parents aren't
home. He finds Phoebe asleep in D.B.'s room and quietly reads through her
schoolbooks. He finally wakes her and she is overjoyed to see him. She is
very bubbly and tells him everything that has happened to her. Suddenly she
realizes that he is home earlier than he was expected and surmises that he
was kicked out of school. She covers her head with her pillow and doesn't
want to talk to Holden anymore. He walks out of her room to get some cigarettes.
The part where Holden sees Phoebe asleep appears to be the calm before the
storm. Holden finds a sense of peace when he watches her sleep. After she
wakes up things become difficult again and reality sets in.
After getting his cigarettes, Holden goes back and gets her to listen. He
tries to explain to her what happened at school and how awful it is. She tries
to make him realize that there isn't a single thing that Holden likes. He
in turn tells her that he likes Allie. Phoebe is annoyed at that because she
tells him that Allie is dead.
When she asks him what he wants to do with his life, Holden doesn't have
an answer. Then he talks to her about the song ,"If a body catch a body
comin' through the rye." He then continues to tells her that he pictures
a lot of kids playing near the edge of a cliff and he is there catching "everybody
if they start to go over the cliff. ...I'd just be the catcher in the rye
A very important passage is when Holden tells Phoebe that he would like to
be the catcher in the rye, saving children from falling off the cliff. He
compares the cliff to adulthood and the difficulties that accompanies the
transition from childhood. He wants to save children from falling off the
cliff and getting hurt.
Holden leaves Phoebe's room to call Mr. Antolini, a teacher that he had at
Elkton Hills. The reader finds out Mr. Antolini was very kind and caring and
that he was the only person who tried to help James Castle, the boy who committed
suicide. Mr. Antolini invites Holden to stay the night at his house after
he hears that was expelled again.
Holden spends more time with Phoebe until his parents come home. He hides
in Phoebe's closet until they go to sleep and then leaves. He tells Phoebe
where he is going and that he plans move out west. He borrows some money from
his sister and gives her his red hunting hat. He is overcome with sadness
when he says good-bye and begins to cry.
This chapter foreshadows the Holden's mental state has reached a new low.
When he gives Phoebe his favorite hat, it is almost as if he is indicating
that he expects to never see her again.
Holden 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. Antolinin 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.
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.
It is questionable whether Mr. Antolini was truly making sexual advances
or whether Holden misinterprets the situation. Whatever it might be, the reader
never really finds out the truth of the incident.
The thing that is clear is that Holden is terribly alone and has no-one to
whom he can turn.
After he leaves Mr. Antolini's apartment, he takes the subway to Grand Central
Station and decides to sleep on one the benches in the waiting room. The next
day he decides to leave New York and hitchhike west. He leaves a note for
Phoebe at her school to meet him at the Museum of Art so that he can return
the money that he borrowed from her.
When Phoebe arrives, she is carrying a suitcase and insists that Holden take
her with him. When he refuses, she gets angry and returns his hunting hat.
Holden tries to get her to go back to school but when she refuses he offers
to take her to the zoo.
After a while they reach the carousel and Holden convinces Phoebe to ride
it. He begins to feel good because Phoebe is no longer angry at him.
Holden emotional state reaches a climax in this chapter. He feels utter loneliness
and cannot relate to anyone. When Phoebe demands to go with him, he realizes
for the first time how his plans could hurt his sister and that his life is
"connected" to someone after all. The fact that he can feel concern
for her is a hopeful sign.
Holden ends the story by refusing to tell any more about himself or what
happened after his day in the park with Phoebe. All he says is that he went
home and was sent to a rest home. In the fall he expects to go to a new school
and thinks that he will do all right there.
The ending is open ended and the reader does not know whether Holden recovers
and whether or not he is able to face life.