What is important about Holden's exam paper?

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mstultz72's profile pic

mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The exam is about ancient Egyptians, and they are a symbol of people stuck in the past, just like Holden.

Throughout the novel, Holden is obsessed with things stuck: the ducks in Central Park, the fish in Central Park, the waxworks in the museum, Jane's kings in the back row, his dead brother Allie.  First, though, are the Egyptians.  All of these are to reinforce that Holden is a conservative who doesn't want to grow up and enter the phony adult world.  They also suggest that Holden never got over his brother's death.  Since then, he has been living in denial and suffering from survivor's guilt.  For Holden, Allie will be forever dead, always the same age, and he wants to be stuck with him--just like the Egyptians are forever stuck in history.

The only way dead people are brought back to life is by writing, as Holden does in the composition for Spencer, and as he is doing in the Catcher in the Rye itself.

salty1234's profile pic

salty1234 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

nothing is exactly important about the actual english exam...

its meant to show the reader about how he doesnt care about his other classes and only cared about his english class becaue he gets along with the teacher

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