Study Guide

The Catcher in the Rye Chapter 25

By J. D. Salinger

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Chapter 25

  • Dawn is breaking (Monday morning) right around the time Holden makes it outside. He doesn't want to spend Phoebe's money by staying at a hotel, so he decides to get his bags and sleep at the train station.
  • And that is … wait for it … depressing.
  • Then he thinks about the episode that just passed. At first he wonders what Mr. Antolini will tell his wife, but mostly he just worries about the "flitty pass" he just experienced.
  • But then he's not sure if it was a flitty pass or not. Maybe the guy just likes to pat people on the head while they're sleeping. Some guys are like that, are we right?
  • Maybe he should have left after all, ugh.
  • To get his mind off matters, Holden picks up a magazine someone left in the station and reads an article about how you're supposed to look if your hormones are working right.
  • Uh-oh. Holden thinks he looks just like the guy who has lousy hormones, which concerns him.
  • It also says that if you have any sores in your mouth that haven't healed in a while, you probably have cancer (or at least, this is Holden's interpretation of the article).
  • Naturally, Holden has a sore in his mouth, so he believes he has cancer, too. Lousy hormones and cancer.
  • Time for breakfast. Or is it? It's hard to eat when you're … wait for it … depressed.
  • Walking down a Christmas-y Fifth Avenue, Holden looks around for the nuns he met earlier, in case they're around someplace taking up a collection.
  • He remembers going shopping with Phoebe around this time last year, and how she tried on about twenty pairs of those shoes that take hours to lace up and drove the salesman mad.
  • Then Holden starts getting this feeling, every time he crosses a street, that as soon as he steps off the curb he'll go "down, down, down" and disappear before he ever reaches the other side.
  • He's so nervous that he keeps talking aloud to his brother Allie, saying over and over, "Allie, don't let me disappear."
  • By the time he gets downtown a bit, he has to sit and rest, he's been so worked up about the whole thing.
  • That's about the time he decides he's really fed up with everything. He'll give Phoebe back her money, and then hitchhike out West.
  • Ooh, here's an idea. He could pretend to be a deaf-mute, and that way everyone would leave him alone. Especially if he married a deaf-mute girl.
  • Holden puts his plan into action by going into a store for a pad and pencil and then heading off to her school to write Phoebe a note.
  • Phoebe's school is the same one Holden went to when he was a kid. He says it's exactly the same as he remembers.
  • There's no one really around—no adults, anyway—since everyone's in class.
  • Holden sits down and writes the note to Phoebe, telling her to meet him at the museum during her lunch so he can return her Christmas money. (The museum is right next to the school.)
  • While he's sitting on the stairs waiting for his nausea to pass, he notices that someone has written "f*** you" on the wall. It makes him crazy that a bunch of kids will ask what that means, and then some dirty kid will tell them, and then they'll have to worry about it for days.
  • It makes him so crazy that he wants to kill whoever wrote it—but, who is he kidding? He probably wouldn't have the guts to smash his head on the concrete.
  • This is even more (wait for it) depressing than the "f*** you" that's written on the wall.
  • Holden rubs it off the wall, but is nervous that someone will see him doing it and think he wrote it.
  • No one's around the principal's office except for an elderly woman who appears to be a receptionist. He hands her the note, chats for a while, doesn't correct her assumption that Pencey is a good school, and leaves.
  • He passes another "f*** you" sign on the way out, but can't rub out this one, as it's scratched in. Sigh. Even with all the time in the world, you could never rub out even half the "f*** you" signs in the world.
  • Because he has some time to kill before meeting Phoebe, Holden contemplates giving Jane a buzz. Not at all to our surprise, he declines to do so.
  • While he's hanging around the museum waiting for Phoebe, two little kids run up and ask him about the mummies.
  • Holden informs one of the kids that his fly's unzipped, but the kid just zips it up, totally unfazed.
  • They want to know where the mummies from the "toons" (tombs) are.
  • Holden horses around with them a bit; turns out they're brothers, and one does all the talking. He leads them to the Egyptian wing of the museum and explains how mummification worked.
  • As he's taking them down the rather spooky hallway to get to the mummies room, the kids get scared and end up taking off.
  • On his way out, Holden sees another "f*** you" written in red crayon on the wall. He takes this as proof that there's nothing really peaceful or sacred around. If he were buried, for example, somebody would probably write "f*** you" on his tombstone.
  • Holden heads to the bathroom and sort of passes out as he's leaving. Somehow, he feels better after this.
  • When Phoebe finally gets there, she's late, wearing his red hunting hat, and dragging a huge suitcase along behind her. She informs Holden that she's running away with him.
  • No way. That is not part of the plan. They argue for a while until he yells at her to "shut up" and she starts crying.
  • He reminds her that she's got to stick around to be in the play, she cries even harder, he hates her more. It's a really sweet family moment.
  • Finally, Holden tries to walk her back to school, but she's having none of it. All she does is take off his hunting hat and chuck it in his face.
  • She refuses to go back to school and tells him (for the first time in her life, Holden says) to shut up.
  • Okay, fine: he'll let her skip school if she comes to the zoo with him, but her answer is a little ambiguous: she just runs across the street.
  • Holden starts walking to the zoo, knowing she'll follow him. And she does.
  • After checking out the sea lions (cute!), they get to the carousel, which Holden is happy to see is still playing the same music it did when he was a kid.
  • Though Phoebe says she's "too big," Holden gets her to ride the carousel. He tries to give her the rest of her money back after he buys the ticket, but she won't let him.
  • Holden finds this … wait for it … depressing.
  • All the kids go around on the carousel; Phoebe keeps trying to grab for the gold ring, which makes him nervous that she'll fall off.
  • (Quick Brain Snack, because Shmoop had to look this one up, too: apparently, some old carousels used to spice things up by rolling rings down a wooden arm on the outside of the carousel. Intrepid riders could read out to try to grab one and then redeem it for prizes.)
  • But, you know, if a kid wants to grab for the gold ring, you have to let them.
  • We think this is probably symbolic. (Check out "Symbols!")
  • Phoebe tries to get him to ride next, but he just wants to watch her. She shoves the red hunting hat back on his head, kisses him, and makes him promise he's not going to run away before she gets back on the carousel for another ride.
  • Holden sits around in the pouring rain, watching Phoebe ride while everyone else heads in for cover. He says he's near crying, that's how happy it makes him to watch Phoebe going around and around on the carousel.

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