Besides Allie, who has Holden “Lost”? How do these losses affect him?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Besides Allie, Holden has lost Jane and Mr. Antolini; also, in a different sense, he has lost James Castle. The loss of these people leaves Holden ill-equipped to handle conflicts and the vicissitudes of life.

The story of Holden Caulfield is that of an essentially idealistic adolescent who searches desperately for some way to relate to the world in which he can alleviate his disappointment in people. He is also very insecure and needs love and emotional support. Allie, Phoebe, Jane, and Mr. Antolini all alleviate Holden's pain because he is able to connect with them and find some meaning in his life through sharing thoughts and feelings with these people.

  • Jane

When Holden learns that Stadlater has a date with Jane, he is extremely upset as he worries that Stadlater will take advantage of Jane sexually. In Chapter 11, Holden reminisces about Jane, describing how he met her, her sense of humor, and .

She was the only one, outside my family, that I ever showed Allie's baseball mitt to, with all the poems written on it.

Holden describes the fun they had together, how he could just be himself with her and she would not judge him. She is not a person to complain about little things, either, and she herself is spontaneous. He describes how she put her hand affectionately on his neck in the cinema once: "'s so pretty it just about kills you."

Clearly, Jane brings Holden the love of friendship and emotional satisfaction. She truly cares for Holden and they have fun no matter what they do together because Jane never judges him, and she delights in what Holden tells her or does with her. 

  • Mr. Antolini

In Chapter 23, Holden mentions to the reader that the teacher Mr. Antolini was the only teacher who came near James Castle's body after he jumped out the window wearing a turtleneck sweater he borrowed from Holden. To Holden, Mr. Antolini is the only faculty member who demonstrates courage and kindness, so he goes to visit him after leaving Phoebe.
Like Jane, Mr. Antolini is non-judgmental and welcomes Holden into his home. In Chapter 24, he asks Holden, "What's the trouble?" Holden confides in him, sensing this man is one in whom he can confide. After listening to Holden, digressions and all, Mr. Antolini tells Holden, "I have a feeling that you're riding for some kind of terrible, terrible fall...." Here Mr. Antolini expresses an idea not dissimilar to Holden's wish to be the "catcher in the rye" of the innocent children. Antolini tries to catch Holden before he has a breakdown.

But, unfortunately for Holden, he rejects Mr. Antolini because after he has fallen asleep, Holden awakens to discover that Mr. Antolini rubbing his head. Because he is homophobic, Holden misinterprets his teacher's gesture and runs off. Ironically, this gesture of Mr. Antolini is not dissimilar to Jane's touching of Holden's neck, but rather than feeling that Mr. Antolini is being fatherly, Holden thinks the man's gesture has a different meaning.

The loss of Jane and Mr. Antolini leave Holden with a desperate need for love and the meaning that sharing with others gives him. For, without people who can support Holden with their genuine love, the adolescent becomes unstable because he is ill-equipped to deal with people.

Read the study guide:
The Catcher in the Rye

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