The Catcher in the Rye
The Catcher in the Rye Chapter 2 Quotes
How we cite the quotes:
"Oh, I have a few qualms, all right. Sure. . . but not too many. Not yet, anyway. I guess it hasn't really hit me yet. It takes things a while to hit me. All I'm doing right now is thinking about going home Wednesday. I'm a moron."
"Do you feel absolutely no concern for your future, boy?"
"Oh, I feel some concern for my future, all right. Sure. Sure, I do." I thought about it for a minute. "But not too much, I guess. Not too much, I guess."
"You will," old Spencer said. "You will, boy. You will when it's too late." (2.64-67)
Compare this conversation with Spencer to Holden's later conversation with Mr. Antolini. There seems to be some structural significance to these two conversations being placed—almost like bookends—around the rest of the text. Both men refer to some sort of crisis or downfall that Holden is surely approaching. Both talk (if somewhat indirectly here) about the importance of education. Both are a little gross—the white, hairless legs of Mr. Spencer and the fact that Mr. Antolini touches Holden while he's sleeping. How does Holden react here? Is it different from the way he reacts later?
One of the biggest reasons I left Elkton Hills was because I was surrounded by phonies. That's all. They were coming in the goddam window. For instance, they had this headmaster, Mr. Haas, that was the phoniest bastard I ever met in my life. Ten times worse than old Thurmer. On Sundays, for instance, old Haas went around shaking hands with everybody's parents when they drove up to school. He'd be charming as hell and all. Except if some boy had little old funny-looking parents. You should've seen the way he did with my roommate's parents. I mean if a boy's mother was sort of fat or corny-looking or something, and if somebody's father was one of those guys that wear those suits with very big shoulders and corny black-and-white shoes, then old Haas would just shake hands with them and give them a phony smile and then he'd go talk, for maybe a half an hour, with somebody else's parents. I can't stand that stuff. It drives me crazy. It makes me so depressed I go crazy. I hated that goddam Elkton Hills. (2.60)
Welcome to Holden's obsession with "phonies." This seems to be the source of much of his dissatisfaction with the world around him—to be fair, it does sound like he’s surrounded by them. We don’t much like this Haas guy, either.