The Catcher in the Rye

Phoebe Caulfield Character Analysis

Holden's younger sister. Though only ten years old, Phoebe is considerably more mature than Holden. She is a voice of reason throughout the novel, both in Holden's thoughts and in the advice she gives to him in person. Phoebe is also unusually perceptive: her insight into Holden's misanthropy, his hatred of almost everything, is a key turning point in the novel. It's no coincidence that perhaps the most level headed and intelligent character in the novel is a child. Holden idealizes childhood and values children's ideas and opinions more than those of adults. Phoebe's intelligence and wise counsel offer a strong contrast to the lectures he receives from the various teachers and headmasters that he despises.

Phoebe Caulfield Quotes in The Catcher in the Rye

The The Catcher in the Rye quotes below are all either spoken by Phoebe Caulfield or refer to Phoebe Caulfield. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Phoniness Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Little, Brown edition of The Catcher in the Rye published in 2001.
Chapter 22 Quotes
"You don't like anything that's happening."
It made me even more depressed when she said that.
"Yes I do. Yes I do. Sure I do. Don't say that. Why the hell do you say that?"
"Because you don't. You don't like any schools. You don't like a million things. You don't."
"I do! That's where you're wrong—that's exactly where you're wrong! Why the hell do you have to say that?" I said. Boy, was she depressing me. "Because you don't," she said. "Name one thing."
"One thing? One thing I like?" I said. "Okay."
The trouble was, I couldn't concentrate too hot. Sometimes it's hard to concentrate.
Related Characters: Holden Caulfield (speaker), Phoebe Caulfield (speaker)
Page Number: 220
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 25 Quotes
[W]hile I was sitting down, I saw something that drove me crazy. Somebody'd written "Fuck you" on the wall. It drove me damn near crazy. I thought how Phoebe and all the other little kids would see it, and how they'd wonder what the hell it meant, and then finally some dirty kid would tell them....I hardly even had the guts to rub it off the wall with my hand, if you want to know the truth. I was afraid some teacher would catch me rubbing it off and would think I'd written it. But I rubbed it out anyway, finally.
Related Characters: Holden Caulfield (speaker), Phoebe Caulfield
Page Number: 260
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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. The thing with kids is, if they want to grab for the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and not say anything. If they fall off, they fall off, but it's bad if you say anything to them.
Related Characters: Holden Caulfield (speaker), Phoebe Caulfield
Related Symbols: The Catcher in the Rye
Page Number: 273
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id es

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Phoebe Caulfield Character Timeline in The Catcher in the Rye

The timeline below shows where the character Phoebe Caulfield appears in The Catcher in the Rye. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 9
Alienation and Meltdown Theme Icon
Women and Sex Theme Icon
Madness, Depression, Suicide Theme Icon
...New York, Holden wants to talk to someone, and considers calling D.B., his younger sister Phoebe, Jane, or another friend named Sally Hayes. He calls none of them. (full context)
Chapter 10
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Madness, Depression, Suicide Theme Icon
Holden again considers calling Phoebe. Holden describes Phoebe: she has red hair, is very intelligent, funny, and creative (she writes... (full context)
Chapter 16
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
It's now Sunday. Holden buys a children's record for Phoebe and thinks about how Phoebe always understands what he's really saying. While passing a church... (full context)
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Holden then heads over to the Mall, a part of the park where Phoebe often roller-skates on Sundays. He meets a girl who thinks Phoebe's at the Museum of... (full context)
Chapter 20
Phoniness Theme Icon
Women and Sex Theme Icon
Madness, Depression, Suicide Theme Icon
...the ducks in the lagoon. During the walk, Holden drops the record he bought for Phoebe and nearly cries. At the park, the lagoon is half frozen and there are no... (full context)
Alienation and Meltdown Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Madness, Depression, Suicide Theme Icon
Holden thinks how awful Phoebe would feel if he died of pneumonia, so he decides to go see her. He... (full context)
Chapter 21
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Holden sneaks into his family's apartment. He finds Phoebe in D.B.'s room, where she likes to sleep when D.B. is away. Holden notices how... (full context)
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
While Phoebe sleeps, Holden looks through her school notebooks. Her scribbling and drawings delight him and he... (full context)
Alienation and Meltdown Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Holden wakes Phoebe up. She's overjoyed to see him and floods him with news, from her role as... (full context)
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Madness, Depression, Suicide Theme Icon
Phoebe then realizes Holden is home two days too early. Holden admits he got expelled. Phoebe... (full context)
Madness, Depression, Suicide Theme Icon
...away to a ranch in Colorado. She keeps the pillow over her head. Holden calls Phoebe a "true madman." (full context)
Chapter 22
Phoniness Theme Icon
Alienation and Meltdown Theme Icon
Madness, Depression, Suicide Theme Icon
Phoebe asks why Holden flunked out of Pencey. He tries to explain about phonies. Phoebe says... (full context)
Alienation and Meltdown Theme Icon
Madness, Depression, Suicide Theme Icon
Holden finally says he likes Allie and talking to Phoebe. Phoebe says that doesn't count because Allie is dead. (full context)
Alienation and Meltdown Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Madness, Depression, Suicide Theme Icon
Phoebe then asks Holden what he would like to be. After some thought, he mentions the... (full context)
Women and Sex Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Phoebe realizes that Holden has misheard the words to a Robert Browning poem. She explains that... (full context)
Chapter 23
Phoniness Theme Icon
Alienation and Meltdown Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Holden convinces Phoebe to dance with him, but their parents come home. Holden hides in the closet until... (full context)
Chapter 25
Alienation and Meltdown Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Madness, Depression, Suicide Theme Icon
As Holden walks down Fifth Avenue, he remembers shopping there with Phoebe. A sudden fear comes over Holden that he'll fall off the curb and not make... (full context)
Phoniness Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
He decides to see Phoebe one last time. He leaves a note at her school asking her to meet him... (full context)
Alienation and Meltdown Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Madness, Depression, Suicide Theme Icon
While waiting for Phoebe at the Museum of Art, Holden tries to help some kids find the room with... (full context)
Alienation and Meltdown Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Phoebe shows up at the museum and begs Holden to take her with him out West.... (full context)
Alienation and Meltdown Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Madness, Depression, Suicide Theme Icon
At the zoo, Holden convinces Phoebe to take a ride on the carousel, which plays the same song it played when... (full context)