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Why did Holden leave Elkton Hills?
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High School Teacher
Holden is reluctant to explain to Pencey teacher Mr Spencer about his 'difficulties' at Elkton Hills School. He explains himself with typical teenage slang, ' I didn't exactly flunk out or anything. I just quit, sort of'. He is suggesting, half-heartedly, that the decision to leave was his own. The reader will note that on the other hand, it is the school that has taken the decision to expel him from Pencey.
Privately he elaborates 'I left Elkton Hills...because I was surrounded by phonies..they had this hadmaster, Mr Haas, that was the phoniest bastard I ever met in my life'. For Holden, Haas is a phoney because he doesn't treat poorer parents as politely and charmingly as he treats richer ones. It incenses Holden that in the supposedly level playing field of education, class and wealth should be an issue.
This is the first mention of 'phonies' - the first of many - in the book and is therefore very significant. Here, as later, it demonstrates Holden's idealism, his unwilingness to accept life's inconsistencies. However, the fact that he 'quit', shows that at this stage in his development, he is running away rather than facing up to life's inequalities in a more mature fashion.
Posted by rnewall on January 3, 2013 at 9:24 AM (Answer #1)
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