The Catcher in the Rye | Study Guide

J. D. Salinger

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Chapter 23

Course Hero's video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of chapter 23 of J.D. Salinger's novel The Catcher in the Rye.

The Catcher in the Rye | Chapter 23 | Summary

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Summary

Despite the late hour, Mr. Antolini tells Holden to come over. Holden returns to Phoebe's room, and Phoebe tells him that she was learning how to make her face feel feverish. He indulges her belief by jerking his hand away from her forehead. The sound of the front door cuts off their playful talk. Holden snaps off the light, tries to fan the cigarette smoke away, and then hides in the closet. Their mother checks on Phoebe, who covers for Holden by saying that she tried a puff and then threw the cigarette out the window. Mrs. Caulfield tucks Phoebe in and goes to bed; then Holden asks Phoebe for a small loan from her Christmas money. She gives him $8.65. He begins to cry quietly, and Phoebe hugs him. Then he gives her the red hat to keep and slips out of the apartment.

Analysis

Holden's parents have been absent from the novel thus far, but Mrs. Caulfield makes a brief, touching appearance here. The Catcher in the Rye is often called a novel of adolescent angst; such novels often depict parent-teen relationships as antagonistic. Not so for Holden—nothing in the novel suggests that he and his parents are in open conflict. His family, though geographically scattered, is united by love and loss. Mrs. Caulfield checks on her daughter, scolds her gently for not being asleep and for sneaking a cigarette, and tucks her in. Holden can tell that she didn't enjoy going to the party. She is not over Allie's death. Holden worries that his going out west will cause his mother more suffering.

Questions about whether Holden will be home for Christmas and whether D.B. will also make the trip emerge during the conversations between Phoebe and Holden and between Phoebe and their mother. Home is something Holden needs at this time in his life. Phoebe knows this, if he does not.

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