The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

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In The Catcher in the Rye, what aspects of falsehood and hypocrisy are represented by Mr. Antolini?

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Holden Caulfield is portrayed as an exceptionally intelligent, observant, sensitive, and articulate but still immature, naïve adolescent. His description of Mr. Antolini shows both his perceptivity and naiveté. In Chapter 22 he writes:

I wanted to phone up this guy that was my English teacher at Elkton Hills, Mr. Antolini. He lived in New York now. He quit Elkton Hills. He took this job teaching English at N.Y.U.

Holden doesn’t realize the implications of what he has written. Later, the reader will guess that Antolini probably didn’t “quit” Elkton Hills but was asked to leave because he was showing the same interest in boys he subsequently shows in Holden at his apartment. Holden says, “He lived in New York now.” This implies that he was a resident teacher.  A boys boarding school would be an attractive place for a man like Antolini to live.

The job he “took teaching English at N.Y.U.” was most likely part-time and untenured. But having married a wealthy woman, he might only want N.Y.U. as a sort of aegis or facade, just as his relationship with an older woman was evidently a mariage de convenance as well as a meal ticket. Being married disguised the fact that he was gay, and his elderly wife bought a pleasant companion, escort, and conversationalist, if not a red-hot lover.

When Antolini answers the door:

He had on his bathrobe and slippers, and he had a highball in one hand. He was a pretty sophisticated guy, and he was a pretty heavy drinker.

Antolini continues drinking heavily throughout their conversation and right up until the time he makes up the couch for Holden to sleep on. Holden misses most of the implications in Antolini’s questions and remarks, which become more and more...

(The entire section contains 615 words.)

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