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In The Catcher in the Rye, what does Holden worry about  as he tries to stop thinking...

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blackfooties | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 13, 2012 at 10:18 PM via web

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In The Catcher in the Rye, what does Holden worry about  as he tries to stop thinking about the incident with Mr. Antolini?

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Douglas Horley | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted October 23, 2013 at 10:44 PM (Answer #2)

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Holden is left feeling greatly unsettled and depressed after the incident with Mr Antolini. It seems the one person in his life whom he did have some positive regard for has let him down. For the reader it is a kind of anti-climax as we are led to believe that Mr Antolini's sound advice (and more importantly Holden's tentative acceptance of it) will be a turning point in Holden's troubled life. It is also coming at a time when he is in a very vulnerable state having been on an extended drinking binge and depleting his savings.

In the wake of the 'flitty' incident with Mr , Holden muses that he is not worried about Mrs Antolini's response to his absence as Mr Antolini will be able to make an excuse, but he is worried that he may have misjudged or misinterpreted Mr Antolini's actions,

But what did worry me was the part about how I'd woke up and found him patting me on the head and all. I mean I wondered if just maybe I was wrong about thinking he was making a flitty pass at me. I wondered if maybe he just liked to pat guys on the head when they're asleep. I mean how can you tell about that stuff for sure? You can't. (p. 201-202)

 We once again see the full extent of Holden's troubled character. He is unable to make sense of the incident with Mr Antolini - unable to angrily dismiss Mr Antolini as 'flitty' or accept that perhaps patting his head was just an innocent gesture. As with so many times before in the novel he is trapped in a psychological conundrum of his own making, and his inability or unwillingness to make a decision sees him fall into an even deeper abyss of depression. 

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katie86 | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 21, 2012 at 11:42 AM (Answer #1)

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"...But what did worry me was the part about how I'd woke up and found him patting me on the head and all. I mean I wondered if just maybe I was wrong about thinking he was making a flitty pass at me. I wondered if maybe he just liked to pat guys on the head when they're asleep. I mean how can you tell about that stuff for sure? You can't. I even started wondering if maybe I should've got my bags and gone back to his house, the way I'd said I would..." (Chapter 25)

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