The Catcher in the Rye help with homework Chapter 25
- How is Holden’s physical condition deteriorating in this chapter?
- How is Holden’s mental condition deteriorating in this chapter?
- What indication is there that Holden may be starting to question his own generalizations?
- Why does Holden want to be a deaf mute?
- Relate the writing on the wall at Phoebe’s school to Holden’s wanting to be a “catcher in the rye.”
How is Holden’s physical condition deteriorating in this chapter?
Every time he steps down off the curb to pass over a road, he thinks he may just keep falling and evaporate. He asks his dead brother, Allie, to help him. Holden is physically and emotionally debilitated, sweating profusely despite the cold. He is near collapse. Holden’s anxiety as he crosses streets on Fifth Avenue is reminiscent of the feelings that he had on his way to Mr. Spencer’s home near the end of Chapter 1. There, too, he felt that he was disappearing every time he crossed a road. The terror is related to the horror he feels toward mutability and death.
How is Holden’s mental condition deteriorating in this chapter?
At the beginning of this chapter, Holden is re-thinking the scene with Mr. Antolini. He questions whether his judgement of Mr. Antolini was premature and wonders if it is possible that the touch was a harmless gesture of paternal affection. He thinks he probably should have returned to Mr. Antolini’s house after he retrieved his luggage. This self-doubt illustrates a change in Holden; throughout the novel he has quickly made moral judgments about everyone and everything. The change, however, does not indicate that Holden is getting better. Instead, he begins to seriously believe that he has cancer and is going to die within a few months, simply because he has had an ulcer in his mouth for two weeks. This fear of death turns into paranoia as he begins to think he is disappearing.
What indication is there that Holden may be starting to question his own generalizations?
This chapter, many readers think, contains the culmination of the novel: the instant when Holden decides to refuse the imagination of the cabin in the West and reconnect with his home. Some readers explain his decision as a sort of crash or at least an acceptance of hopelessness because of Holden’s reaction to the shameful graffiti he encounters where children will see it. Readers are right that Holden decides he cannot clean up the world to make it safe for innocent children.
However, it may be that Holden has grasped that the cause he’d taken up, to be the “catcher” of the children near the cliff, is unrealistic, or at least that he’s going about the job wrong. Whatever Holden’s adult life entails, it won’t involve pretending to be a deaf-mute, avoiding conversation, and trying to rub out offending words. He turns his back on that hopeless quest and focuses instead on the children’s willingness to reach out for the gold ring, despite the risks.
Why does Holden want to be a deaf mute?
“I thought what I’d do was, I’d pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes. That way I wouldn’t have to have any goddam stupid useless conversations with anybody. If anybody wanted to tell me something, they’d have to write it on a piece of paper and shove it over to me”. Being a deaf-mute will mean that Holden can’t listen to or talk with anybody, the ultimate isolation from society. This, in a way, symbolizes death in that no one has to care about him and he doesn’t have to care about anyone. The ironic thing is that he later (I believe, again, I may be off…) talks about having another deaf-mute woman so that they could be together. So, deep inside, perhaps Holden doesn’t want to be isolated from society.
Relate the writing on the wall at Phoebe’s school to Holden’s wanting to be a “catcher in the rye.”
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 vocabulary is often salty, and Phoebe asked him to break off cursing when he visited her in the apartment, but he finds this word especially detestable and does not use it around his sister.