By this time, it's nearly sunrise. Holden goes down to Grand Central where his bags are and sleeps for a few hours in the waiting room. When he awakens, he wonders what Mr. Antolini will say to his wife when she realizes that Holden hadn't slept there, then he wonders if he misinterpreted Mr. Antolini's patting him on the head while he slept.
Holden wanders up Fifth Avenue, looking at the store windows decorated for Christmas and the little kids shopping with their mothers. He remembers shopping with his sister two years ago at Christmastime, and how as a joke they got the salesman to lace up pair after pair after pair of boots for her to try on, and how they then decided to get her moccasins, without laces. After awhile walking up the avenue, Holden gets the strange notion that when he steps off the sidewalk to cross the street he'll disappear entirely. He asks his dead brother Allie's help to watch over him from block to block. Eventually he sits down and decides that he's through with school. He decides that he'll hitchhike out west where no one knows him, build a little cabin in the sun, and pretend to be a deaf-mute so he isn't bothered by people trying to have conversations with him. Then he'd marry a deaf-mute woman and raise children together. He realizes the pretense of being a deaf-mute is silly, but he likes the idea anyway. He heads off to Phoebe's school to say goodbye to her.
At the school, he writes a note telling her to meet him at the museum at lunchtime. On his way to deliver it, he sees where someone has written "Fuck you" on the wall. He worries that kids will see it and wipes it off. He wants to kill whatever "perverty bum" he figures must have written it. He delivers the note to the principal's office, then goes to leave the school. On his way out, though, he sees where someone has written another "Fuck you." He realizes that it's impossible to wipe away all such signs, and, it is implied, that no one can completely protect children from the world. Holden gets to the museum early, and helps two kids find the mummy room. When he gets there he sees a third "Fuck you" sign on the wall. Later, when Holden is in the bathroom, he faints briefly, having felt dizzy all day (these, along with poor appetite and loss of energy, are early symptoms of the tuberculosis some critics suggest Holden has contracted).
He thinks about his cabin out west. Phoebe could visit on school vacations, he decides, and D.B. could come to visit when he needed a quiet place to write, but Holden would only allow him to write books or stories, not screenplays: "I'd have this rule that nobody could do anything phony when they visited me."
Phoebe arrives late, dragging a suitcase, and announces to Holden that she's coming with him. He feels dizzy again, they argue, and she cries. Holden checks her bag at the museum so she can get it again after school and tells her she has to get back, and that he's changed his mind and won't go off hitchhiking. Phoebe angrily takes off Holden's hunting hat that she's wearing and throws it back at him. She says she's not going back to school, either.
Holden walks towards the zoo, knowing she'll follow him, and when he gets to the zoo she comes in with him, but at a distance. They watch the sea-lions and the bears, and then walk to the Central Park carousel. Phoebe says she's too old to ride, but Holden buys her a ticket and watches her from a bench. Afterwards, when he promises again that he isn't going to leave, she gives him a kiss and takes the hunting hat out of his pocket and puts it on him. She rides the carousel again, and he watches happily as it begins to rain.
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Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Chapter 4 and 5
Chapter 6 and 7
Chapter 8 and 9
Chapter 10 and 11
Chapter 12 and 13
Chapter 14 and 15
Chapter 17 and 18
Chapter 19 and 20
Chapter 21 and 22
Chapter 23 and 24