The Catcher in the Rye help with homework Chapter 12
- Again, what does the duck question (asked of Horowitz, the cab driver) show about Holden’s character?
- “People always clap for the wrong things,” according to Holden. Cite three examples of this.
- Find two examples of ironies Holden is aware of in this chapter.
- Why do people have to say stuff like “glad to’ve met you” in order to stay alive? What does Holden mean?
Again, what does the duck question (asked of Horowitz, the cab driver) show about Holden’s character?
In Chapter 12 Holden gets into a “vomity” cab with a driver named Horwitz. He asks again his question about the ducks and where they go in the winter, but Horwitz doesn’t know.
Holden’s obsession with the ducks in Central Park, he is very curious to discover the habits of the ducks and how they disappear and then reappear when the weather gets warm, acts as a way for him to focus on questions that are difficult to answer, like why young people die.
Holden asks this question over and over again, failing to get a satisfactory answer. This question about the disappearing ducks was always his way of asking about the isolation and transformation of death. Since, he is stuck in a cycle of grief over the loss of his little brother, he can’t make sense of his death and cannot find his way back to participation in society without getting some answers.
Holden longs to understand the cycle that the ducks follow, he somehow equates it with a sense of eternity, where life is renewed each and every spring. It is comforting to think that there is life after death, especially thinking about Allie who will forever be a child.
Holden’s desire to see the ducks again would provide him with comfort, they are familiar, they remind him of when he was a child. So in a sense even though Holden sits by the frozen pond and contemplates his own death, the ducks really provide something for Holden to live for, waiting for them to return gives him a sense of purpose.
Even though, he can’t get a satisfactory answer to where the ducks go in the winter and how they know to come back, in his isolation of never receiving an answer, he is comforted by the question, a mystery of nature, one that provides clarity to other mysteries that cannot be explained, like death.
“People always clap for the wrong things,” according to Holden. Cite three examples of this.
In chapter 12, Holden mentions that, “People always clap for the wrong things” (87). I think that what he means by this is that people will clap for something no matter how good or bad the thing is. What Holden notices (instead of the fact that it is common courtesy to applaud after something is over) is that it is phony to clap for something that you do not actually think was good. That when, people clap, it is generally based off of stereotypes and preconceived notions about a performer. For example, say Mozart was playing a song. Everyone would hoot and holler until their lungs were dry at the end, no matter if it was terrible or it measures up to Mozart. But say a street hobo plays a song that is just as good. Nobody would get excited about it. Why? Preconceived notions that a homeless man wouldn’t be able to play an instrument or perform something very well. This is one diseases society has: its refusal to believe something that seems to be out of the box.
Find two examples of ironies Holden is aware of in this chapter.
Chapter 12 of The Catcher in the Rye is full of ironic commentary on the part of Holden Caulfield. Irony is when the unexpected happens and Holden is conscious of two events where irony occurs. It is interesting, though, too, that in chapter twelve other ironies are happening around Holden that he doesn’t observe. First, the two events that he does notice are how weird it is that Horowitz the cabby would be so ornery every time he answers a question. Holden asks a simple question about ducks and the cabby seems completely annoyed, but then turns around and tells Holden that mother nature takes care of her own. Surely he didn’t expect to learn anything or hear something wise come out of a grumpy cab driver. Second, he finds it uncouth for a guy at the bar to be groping a girl under the table while talking about someone’s suicide at the same time–that’s not exactly romantic. Plus, Holden marvels that good looking people seem to have unintelligent conversations. Holden doesn’t count on the fact, though that as he is out on the town looking for companionship to avoid his loneliness, all he seems to get is disappointment, and that is ironic, too. “People are always ruining things for you”(87) he says at the end of the chapter. Maybe he’s discovering that nothing is ever as it seems to be, which is a great discovery of irony, too.
Why do people have to say stuff like “glad to’ve met you” in order to stay alive? What does Holden mean?
Holden says “I’m always saying ‘Glad to’ve met you’ to somebody I’m not glad I met. If you want to stay alive, you have to do that stuff, though.” He understands that, in life, you have pleasantries to go through that aren’t always necessarily true, just to fit in with society. If you don’t want to fit in with society, you outright speak your mind and tell people when they’re being boring or that you would rather not spend the evening with them. Here, he implies that society forcers a person to be false as a means towards survival.