The Catcher in the Rye Chapter 22 Questions
- What is the significance of Holden’s wanting to be the “catcher in the rye”? What things has he done, or tried to do, during the course of the novel to try to be the “catcher in the eye”?
- How is the name Holden Caulfield an echo of the title, The Catcher in the Rye?
- How does Phoebe think their father will react to Holden’s expulsion?
- What does Phoebe challenge Holden to do?
- Where does Holden think he might be, despite his father’s wishes?
What is the significance of Holden’s wanting to be the “catcher in the rye”? What things has he done, or tried to do, during the course of the novel to try to be the “catcher in the eye”?
Holden’s interpretation of the poem centers around the loss of innocence (adults and society corrupt and ruin children), and his instinctual desire to protect them (his sister in particular). Holden sees himself as “the catcher in the rye.” Throughout the novel, he’s confronted with the realities of growing up–of violence, sexuality and corruption (or “phoniness”), and he doesn’t want any part of it.
Holden is (in some ways) incredibly naive and innocent about worldly realities. He doesn’t want to accept the world as it is, but he also feels powerless, unable to affect change. He wants to “rescue” the children (like some Pied Piper of Hamelin, playing a lute or leading a lyrical chant–to take the children off to some unknown place). The growing-up process is almost like a runaway train, moving so fast and furiously in a direction that’s beyond his control (or, even, really his comprehension). He can’t do anything to stop or stall it, and he realizes that his wish to save the children is “crazy”– perhaps even unrealistic and impossible. Everyone must grow up. It’s a sad, stark reality for him (one that he doesn’t want to accept).
How is the name Holden Caulfield an echo of the title, The Catcher in the Rye?
Holden is a classic case of a name that jumped out of a book and onto birth certificates-though it took quite a while. Parents who loved J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye are flocking to the name of its hero, Holden Caulfield -not coincidentally in tune with the Hudson- Hayden- Colton field of names. Salinger supposedly came up with the name while looking at a movie poster promoting a film starring William Holden and Joan Caulfield, though other sources say he was named after Salinger’s friend Holden Bowler.
How does Phoebe think their father will react to Holden’s expulsion?
When Phoebe first learns of Holden’s expulsion, she covers her head with a pillow and refuses to look at him. As the main character tells us: ‘She was ostracizing the hell out of me. Just like the fencing team at Pencey…’ After Holden goes to the living room to nab some cigarettes, Phoebe takes her head out of the pillow but still refuses to look at him. Trying to change the subject, Holden asks Phoebe about the stories she writes, but she’s not ready to drop his academic record. Anticipating how their parents will respond to her brother’s expulsion, she says: ‘Daddy’ll kill you.’
What does Phoebe challenge Holden to do?
Phoebe demands that he name one thing he likes, just one thing, then stares at him, waiting for an answer. While she waits, Holden can’t keep his mind on the question at hand, and he starts thinking about James Castle, a boy who got bullied around at one of Holden’s old schools and ultimately jumped out of a window to his death. Phoebe interrupts his thoughts, now telling Holden, “‘You can’t even think of one thing.'” (pg. 171) Holden finally answers that he likes Allie and that he likes what he’s doing at the moment, sitting and chatting with Phoebe. Neither answer satisfies Holden’s sister, and she demands next to know what Holden’s going to do with his life. This question only leads Holden to another depressing rant about how most anything you do in the adult world ends up making a phony out of you. Finally, sitting on the bed, Holden comes up with one job he’d like to have. He tells Phoebe of a vision he’s had: “‘Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around – nobody big, I mean – except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all.'”
Where does Holden think he might be, despite his father’s wishes?
In Chapter 22 during discussion with sister Holden tries to reassure Phoebe that the worse that can happen is that he’ll be sent to military school. But as he’ll most likely end up going to work on a ranch in Colorado, there’s nothing to worry about. Anticipating how their parents will respond to her brother’s expulsion, Phoeble says: ‘Daddy’ll kill you.’