Free Study Guide for The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger|
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CHAPTER SUMMARY WITH NOTES
All day long, Holden has been wanting to see Phoebe; he even tried to find her in Central Park. Now that he is finally in the same room, he lovingly watches her sleep and looks at her schoolwork before he wakes her. It is like he is trying to be a part of her world and re-establish his connection with her. At the same time, Phoebe is obviously a calming influence that brings out Holden’s sensitive nature. After she is awake, he listens to her report of daily activities with almost reverential awe. He even says, "I felt swell, for a change . I didn’t even feel like I was getting pneumonia or anything anymore." Holden has assured the reader all along that Phoebe understands him best, so this meeting is highly important and emotionally charged, a key scene in the continuing development of Holden’s emotional breakdown.
Phoebe is thrilled to see her brother, and they converse as equals, with mutual affection for one another. Holden shows Phoebe the broken record he and bought her. She tells him she will save the pieces for sentimental. Holden is touched by her kindness, and in a manner typical to him, he can only say "she kills me".
Unfortunately, all the hope Holden has banked on this very important meeting quickly gives way to tremendous disappointment. Phoebe guesses that Holden has been expelled again and gets very upset. She refuses to talk to Holden, burying her head beneath a pillow and yelling "Daddy’ll kill you." It is an unexpected affirmation that Holden is a failure, and this rejection is by far the most shattering blow to an already Holden’s already devastated ego. He has believed all along that Phoebe will understand what no one else seems to and that Phoebe will accept him for what he is. When she turns her head away, Holden is defeated, and the novel will rapidly spiral to his total breakdown.
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. 09 May 2017