The Catcher in the Rye Chapter 25 Questions
- How does Holden help the two kids at the museum? What is symbolic about the meeting? What is ironic?
- Explain two examples of Holden’s accepting reality in this chapter.
- What does Phoebe wanting to go away with Holden do for him? How does Phoebe force Holden to accept responsibility?
- What is symbolic and ironic about Phoebe’s role in the school play?
- What is the significance of Phoebe’s riding the carousel and reaching for the gold ring?
- How is Holden’s hunting hat symbolic in this chapter?
How does Holden help the two kids at the museum? What is symbolic about the meeting? What is ironic?
While waiting for Phoebe at the Museum of Art, Holden tries to help some kids find the room with the mummies, but the kids get scared and run off. He then notices another “Fuck You” written on the wall of the hallway. He predicts that even his tombstone will have “Fuck You” written on it. He feels ill, and in the bathroom he faints. It’s ironic that Holden scares the children he’s trying to help, and a sign that something is really wrong with him. At the same time, he’s clearly not able to understand the seriousness of his mental distress. He comments on his fainting as if it’s nothing.
Explain two examples of Holden’s accepting reality in this chapter.
Holden’s refusal to let Phoebe join him on his trip out West stems from a fear that she won’t grow up when with him. Something has changed in Holden, for by refusing her into his sanctuary, he acknowledges that children must grow up. It is the rejection of this sanctuary which ultimately makes Holden change his mind and decide to stay. But Holden does more than just this. When he affirms Phoebe’s question “You really arne’t going away anywhere?” we get the feeling that by not going anywhere, Holden has decided to quit running from his problems and may start looking inside of himself instead.
What does Phoebe wanting to go away with Holden do for him? How does Phoebe force Holden to accept responsibility?
When Phoebe arrives, she proves her love for Holden. She is twenty minutes late for their meeting because she has gone home and packed her suitcase. She announces to her brother her plan to accompany him out west. Holden scolds her harshly, partly because he is shocked and partly because he is still a little sick. Instantly he is sorry for his harshness; he decides to make it up to her by taking her to the zoo and carousel in Central Park and promising her that he will not go away. The action of the novel ends with Holden watching his beloved sister ride round and round on the carousel; it is the symbol of his spinning world.
What is symbolic and ironic about Phoebe’s role in the school play?
While delivering a note for Phoebe to the principal’s office of her school, he sees that someone has written “Fuck you” on the wall by the stairs. This enrages him. Holden’s own language is often salty, and Phoebe asked him to stop cursing when he visited her in the apartment, but he finds this word especially abhorrent and does not use it around his sister. It upsets him that innocent children must see such a thing.
What is the significance of Phoebe’s riding the carousel and reaching for the gold ring?
The scene with Phoebe at the carousel deserves some explanation. Carousels used to have a gold ring in the center which children could grab for as a prize. Here, Holden makes the ultimate gesture demonstrating that he finds his dream of being the “catcher in the rye” both impossible and undesirable: “All the kids kept trying to grab for the gold ring, and so was old Phoebe, and I was sort of afraid she’d fall off the goddam horse, but I didn’t say anything or do anything. . . . If they fall off, they fall off, but it’s bad if you say anything to them.” In letting Phoebe go, despite the possibility that she might “fall,” Holden acknowledges that her future is her choice, not his. Falling off the cliff does not necessarily lead to phoniness, and Holden has realized that children must make their own decisions. Here, the sight of Phoebe going around and around on the carousel cheers him up because it seems as if she will never go anywhere-that she will never change.
How is Holden’s hunting hat symbolic in this chapter?
After the ride Phoebe kisses Holden and retrieves the hat from his pocket to put on his head. Rain starts to fall as Phoebe asks whether Holden meant it when he said he wasn’t going anywhere. Holden assures her that he meant it; this time, he tells the reader, he wasn’t lying. She rides again as the rain falls harder. Holden is soaked but happy watching her ride the brown horse, seeing her blue coat through the rain. Throughout the novel, Holden has used the red hunting hat as a means of comfort and protection. Holden says: “My hunting hat really gave me quite a lot of protection, in a way, but I got soaked anyway”.