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Why was the only subject in school that Holden actually passed without much trouble...

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reztlaf | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 26, 2009 at 11:42 AM via web

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Why was the only subject in school that Holden actually passed without much trouble prior to being kicked out was English?

Does this hold some sort of connection with his isolation from society and him somehow using English as a way to escape from the world? I never understood it; if he was mentally unstable and was passing English, what REALLY stopped him from not putting any application towards other subjects?

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allyson | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

Posted April 27, 2009 at 11:32 PM (Answer #1)

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Early on, Holden tells Mr. Spencer that he passed English because he had the same class the year before, when he was at The Whooton School, so he did not have to work very hard, just "write compositions once in awhile."

Nevertheless, Holden is also very good in English. He is well-read, often quoting classics, such as Romeo and Juliet, The Return of the Native, and Out of Africa. The reader also gets to see his creative side, when he writes the descriptive piece for Stradlater, which he chooses to write on Allie's baseball glove. We understand his thought process better at this point, but we also understand from where his instability stems. It is interesting to note that he writes this piece in order to escape the world. He could not stop thinking about Stradlater and what he might be doing on his date with Jane, so he writes the essay, thus thinking about something else.

There is no doubt that Holden is smart. He puts little effort into his work, probably for a number of reasons, including his hatred of the hypocrisy he sees in the school, his fear of growing up, and his inability to accept his brother's death.

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