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Who is Mr. Spencer and why does Holden visit him in The Catcher in the Rye?

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andrews1992 | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 12, 2011 at 1:08 AM via web

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Who is Mr. Spencer and why does Holden visit him in The Catcher in the Rye?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 12, 2011 at 1:52 AM (Answer #1)

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Mr. Spencer is Holden Caulfield's favorite teacher at Pencey Prep. Holden decides to pay him a visit to say goodbye after having once again flunked out of school. Mr. Spencer is Holden's history teacher, from whom Holden received a failing grade, and Spencer has sent Holden a note requesting that he come by his home before leaving town. Holden genuinely likes the old gentleman, one of the few characters in the novel who Holden appreciates, and Spencer likes Holden. But the visit soon turns sour when Spencer begins to lecture his student about responsibility and the need for a good education. Spencer, who is ill, repulses Holden when he greets him in a bathrobe, exposing the old man's withered limbs. Holden is polite to his teacher, but he cuts the visit short when the conversation becomes too serious.

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