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There was this one boy at Elkton Hills, named James Castle, that wouldn't take back something he said about this very conceited boy, Phil Stabile. […] Stabile, with about six other dirty bastards, went down to James Castle's room and went in and locked the goddam door and tried to make him take back what he said, but he wouldn't do it. I won't even tell you what they did to him – it's too repulsive. […] Finally, what he did, instead of taking back what he said, he jumped out the window. I was in the shower and all, and even I could hear him land outside. […] There was old James Castle laying right on the stone steps and all. He was dead, and his teeth, and blood, were all over the place. […] He had on this turtleneck sweater I'd lent him. (22.30)
This detail about the turtleneck sweater reminds us that Holden has been close to death multiple times in his life. We can really see the roots of his obsession with mortality. Also, does this sound like someone dying nobly for a ignoble cause? Check out "Symbols, Imagery, Allegory" for more.
Anyway, I kept walking and walking up Fifth Avenue, without any tie on or anything. Then all of a sudden, something very spooky started happening. Every time I came to the end of a block and stepped off the goddam curb, I had this feeling that I'd never get to the other side of the street. I thought I'd just go down, down, down, and nobody'd ever see me again. Boy, did it scare me. You can't imagine. I started sweating like a bastard – my whole shirt and underwear and everything. Then I started doing something else. Every time I'd get to the end of a block I'd make believe I was talking to my brother Allie. I'd say to him, "Allie, don't let me disappear. Allie, don't let me disappear. Allie, don't let me disappear. Please, Allie." And then when I'd reach the other side of the street without disappearing, I'd thank him. Then it would start all over again as soon as I got to the next corner. But I kept going and all. I was sort of afraid to stop, I think – I don't remember, to tell you the truth. I know I didn't stop till I was way up in the Sixties, past the zoo and all. Then I sat down on this bench. I could hardly get my breath, and I was still sweating like a bastard. I sat there, I guess, for about an hour. (25.8)
What would it mean for Holden to disappear? Notice that he doesn't ask not to get hit by a car, not to fall down a pothole, not to get struck by lightning; he asks not to disappear. It seems as though he's talking about dying here, but isn't able to use that label. Part of this may have to do with Holden not fully understanding how to deal with death – the death of his brother and his own mortality. Instead of facing the very real nature of death, he makes it supernatural and calls it "disappearing" instead of "dying."
Finally, what I decided I'd do, I decided I'd go away. I decided I'd never go home again and I'd never go away to another school again. […] 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. […] Everybody'd think I was just a poor deaf-mute bastard and they'd leave me alone. […] I'd meet this beautiful girl that was also a deaf-mute and we'd get married. She'd come and live in my cabin with me, and if she wanted to say anything to me, she'd have to write it on a goddam piece of paper, like everybody else. If we had any children, we'd hide them somewhere. We could buy them a lot of books and teach them how to read and write by ourselves. (25.8)
After his encounter with Mr. Antolini, Holden begins to imagine his death – if not a real death, then a symbolic one; as a deaf-mute, he doesn't have to speak or listen to anybody – he can truly be left alone. And yet, the rest of this paragraph perfectly encapsulates Holden's paradox. All he wants is to be left alone, and yet he'll have to meet another deaf-mute, a beautiful woman, so he can marry her and…have a life companion? It seems at odds, doesn't it? Holden is always struggling to satisfy both these desires: to be left alone, and to have companionship.