Does the ending of the story settle the conflict satisfactorily? Why or why not?

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sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is an opinion question.  In my opinion, no, the ending of the story does not settle the conflict in a satisfactory way.  Holden is one of the most frustrating characters that I have ever had the privilege to read about.  He complains about everything.  He has his bright spots, but I found him exhausting.  Everything bothers him or is a pet peeve of his, and he fails to notice that the common denominator is him.  Maybe he's the problem.  Of course Holden would tell me to get lost since I'm such a phony.  He can't stand phonies.  That's his biggest complaint of all.  

"One of the biggest reasons I left Elkton Hills was because I was surrounded by phonies. That's all. They were coming in the goddamn window. "

Later, Holden tries to explain to Phoebe why he got kicked out of Pency. 

"A million reasons why. It was one of the worst schools I ever went to. It was full of phonies."

To Holden, a phony is anybody that puts on an act and has become so good at it that they don't even realize they are doing it.  And I see Holden as a huge phony.  

Throughout the novel he is all bluff and bluster.  He talks a really big game about leaving and going somewhere else.  He talks big about how everybody around him are all such phonies and about how he can't stand it anymore and is going to leave.  

He even manages to convince his sister to run away with him.  But at the end of the story, when his sister is ready to go, Holden changes his mind and decides to stay.  At that point, I consider him a phony along with all of the others.  

He decides to finally make a change in his life and do something proactive, and then he chickens out (that's how I read it anyway). I would have been much more satisfied if Holden had actually followed through on his plan.  As it is, the ending fits Holden's personality.  So, on one hand, the ending makes perfect sense. On the other hand, it didn't satisfy anything for me. 

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The Catcher in the Rye

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