The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye Chapter 23 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Holden calls Mr. Antolini, who tells him he can come over right away if he wants, though he’s upset to hear that Holden has been kicked out of Pencey. After hanging up, Holden reflects upon the fact that Mr. Antolini is the best teacher he’s ever had and is the kind of adult who can joke around but also maintain a sense of authority. In fact, it was Mr. Antolini who picked James Castle off the ground when the boy jumped out of the window. For this reason, Holden respects him. 
Holden thinks highly of Mr. Antolini because Mr. Antolini doesn’t conform to the same stereotype as most teachers. Instead of existing as a disciplinarian figure in Holden’s life, Mr. Antolini is at once personable and respectable, a blend of characteristics that appeals to Holden, who badly needs somebody he likes to help guide him through this stage of his life, since he has trouble finding role models in people he thinks are “phony.”
Themes
Phoniness Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Back in Phoebe’s room, Holden convinces his little sister to dance with him. Since he thinks Phoebe is one of the best dancers he’s ever met, he’s happy when she agrees to do several numbers with him. When they stop, Holden lights a cigarette and turns off the radio—a smart choice, since he then hears his parents entering the apartment. Stubbing out his cigarette, he turns off the lights and hides in the closet before his mother enters and scolds Phoebe, saying that she saw the light go off. She also smells the cigarette smoke, and Phoebe says that she took just one puff. This displeases her mother, but she doesn’t punish Phoebe, instead telling her to go to sleep.
Phoebe’s loyalty to Holden comes to the forefront of the novel when she takes the blame for smoking. This illustrates that they have a strong mutual affection for one another. More importantly, Phoebe is perhaps the only person who would be willing to sacrifice herself for Holden, since she is also the only person he has never wronged or purposefully estranged himself from.
Themes
Alienation and Meltdown Theme Icon
When his mother leaves the room, Holden creeps out of the closet and prepares to leave. Because he’s running low on money, though, he’s forced to borrow from Phoebe. He feels guilty for taking the money she has saved to buy Christmas presents, but he has no other choice, and Phoebe is happy to lend it to him. Before leaving, he promises to come see her play on Friday, saying that he’ll pay her back at that point. In response, she hands him the entirety of her savings, despite his insistence that he only needs a couple of dollars. Overwhelmed by emotion, Holden begins to cry, which startles Phoebe. When she tells him that he can spend the night with her in D.B.’s room if it’d make him feel better, he thanks her but says he has to leave, taking off his hunting hat and giving it to her. 
Phoebe doesn’t know what to make of Holden’s sudden display of intense emotion, but she also doesn’t judge him for breaking down. To the contrary, she supports him and makes him feel as if it’s all right to be sad. To show her how much he appreciates this emotional support, then, he gives her his hunting hat, a symbolic act that represents his willingness to make sacrifices for his beloved little sister. Given that the hat is an ongoing symbol of Holden’s alienation from others, this gesture also indicates that he considers Phoebe to be a friend and confidant, and that he feels he can be his true self around her instead of putting on a contrived persona. This, it’s worth mentioning, is one of the few selfless things Holden does throughout the entire novel.
Themes
Alienation and Meltdown Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon