In chapters 11 to 12 of Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, why does Holden travel to New York City?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Holden Caulfield is Salinger's protagonist in The Catcher in the Rye. When Holden gets word that he is being kicked out of this third prep school, Pencey, he is worried about going home. His home is in New York City, but he doesn't want to go to his parents' apartment. In fact, he doesn't want to see his parents until after they have received the letter from Pencey informing them of Holden failing out of school again. As a result, he decides to go to New York City and stay in a hotel for a few days. This will give him some time to think about his life and what he wants to do with it, but mostly, he's avoiding going home because he doesn't want to face the consequences. Another reason Holden leaves school early is because he doesn't feel like he belongs at Pencey anymore. Right before he exits the dorm building he says the following:

"All of a sudden, I decided what I'd really do, I'd get the hell out of Pencey—right that same night and all. I mean not wait till Wednesday or anything. I just didn't want to hang around any more. It made me too sad and lonesome. So what I decided to do, I decided I'd take a room in a hotel in New York . . . and just take it easy till Wednesday. Then, on Wednesday, I'd go home all rested up and feeling swell" (51).

Holden says this in chapter seven, and he does exactly as he claims. He heads to New York, doesn't go home, and finds a cheap hotel to stay in for a few days. In chapters 11 and 12, then, he is already in New York City. Chapter 11 is mostly about Jane Gallagher, the girl Holden on whom Holden has a crush. He reveals more about his relationship with her and how they used to spend time together during their summers in Maine. They played golf together and checkers together, and they almost made out.

Chapter 12 shows Holden falling deeper into depression and loneliness as he seeks places to hang out and feel accepted until Wednesday when he plans to go home. Holden runs into a couple who know his older brother, he talks with a cab driver about where ducks go in the winter, and he criticizes almost everyone he sees for being phonies.

bmadnick eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Holden goes to New York in Chapter 7 after he's thrown out of school. When he leaves school, he is sad, hurt, lonely, feels abandoned by his friends, and feels guilt about hurting his mother.

Chapters 11 and 12 tell about what Holden is doing after he's arrived in New York. He goes to the lounge in his hotel and then takes a taxi to Ernie's. He tries to make friends with the cab driver, asking him to have a drink with him. These chapters continue to reflect Holden's loneliness and depression.

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The Catcher in the Rye

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