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The Catcher in the Rye

by J. D. Salinger
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How did Holden let the fencing team down in Catcher in the Rye?

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Holden is the manager of the fencing team.  In this capacity, he is in charge of all the equipment, which he says is "a very big deal".  Holden had gone down to New York with the team that morning for a meet with McBurney School, only the meet had to be cancelled because Holden "left all the foils and equipment and stuff on the goddam subway".  Holden claims that his oversight was not all his fault, because he had had to keep getting up during the subway ride to look at a map, so the team would know where to get off.  Nonetheless, the team is angry at him, and "ostracize(s) (him) all the way back on the train".

It appears that the incident with the fencing team is the last in a long series of mess-ups by Holden.  He has already been kicked out of school because of his dismal academic performance; he is not "supposed to come back after Christmas vacation, on account of (he) (is) flunking four subjects and not applying (him)self at all".  As soon as the team gets back from the meet that was never held because of his ineptness as a manager, Holden prepares to leave the school grounds forever, even though a few days remain until the official start of vacation (Chapter 1). 

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