RE: The Catcher in the Rye help with homework Chapter 21
- Characterize Phoebe.
- In what ways does Phoebe seem older than Holden? Who is more in touch with reality, Holden or Phoebe? Defend your answer.
- Why isn’t Holden recognized when he goes to his family’s apartment?
- Where does Holden find Phoebe sleeping?
- Why does Phoebe become so angry with Holden?
Holden’s 10-year-old sister, Phoebe, is bright, pretty, mature beyond her years, sane, and his most trusted link to family. She is successful in school, her best course being spelling. She is the one who corrects Holden concerning the words to the Robert Burns poem that is the source of the novel’s title. In her spare time, she writes fiction featuring a girl detective, an orphan named Hazle Weatherfield. Phoebe later adopts “Weatherfield” as her own middle name. She likes elephants and has red ones on her blue pajamas. She studies belching with a friend named Phyllis; her best friend, Alice, is teaching Phoebe to induce a fever artificially by crossing her legs, holding her breath, and thinking of something very hot.
For her part, Phoebe sometimes sees right through her brother. She realizes early in his visit that he has been expelled from Pencey. On the other hand, some of Holden’s darker thoughts are beyond her. She can’t fathom why he is so self-destructive or why he doesn’t just succeed in school the way she does. When he bares his soul to tell her of his dream of being “the catcher in the rye,” she is quiet for a long time but then simply states, in reference to his expulsion, “Daddy’s going to kill you,” illustrating that despite their great friendship and connection, Phoebe is still only 10 years old and cannot be expected to understand the true meaning of Holden’s words.