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The Catcher in the Rye

by J. D. Salinger

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What aspects of the apartment are contributing to Holden’s discomfort in chapter 24 of The Catcher in the Rye?

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In this chapter, Holden visits his teacher, Mr. Antolini, who lives in a "swanky" apartment. Mr. Antolini meets him at the door in a bathrobe, holding a drink. The more Mr. Antolini talks to Holden, the sicker Holden feels. He has a headache and a stomach ache that increase as Mr. Antolini probes him about why he flunked his oral expression course. Mr. Antolini's questioning of Holden and why he did poorly at Pencey are increasing the pressure on Holden. Mr. Antolini is a teacher he respects, so when Mr. Antolini puts Holden on the spot, he is uncomfortable to the point of getting sick. His guilt is making him uncomfortable and sick. Mr. Antolini points out that he has had lunch with Holden's father and that the father is very worried about Holden. This strikes at Holden's good heart, even though he is messed up mentally, so the guilt increases.

Mr. Antolini keeps drinking, and this makes Holden nervous. Plus, he keeps staring at Holden, and this makes Holden nervous. Holden explains that he wishes Mr. Antolini would stop talking, because he is getting more and more tired, but Mr. Antolini keeps on talking and drinking and giving Holden profound advice.

The biggest thing that makes Holden nervous is that he wakes up in the middle of the night - he is sleeping on the couch - to find Mr. Antolini stroking his hair. Holden freaks out at this point, bolts out of his "bed" and tries to get dressed and leave. He is fearful that Mr. Antolini is a pervert, making a pass at him. Also, Holden notices that Mr. Antolini is still drinking, so Holden is assuming the worst. He runs out of the apartment to the elevator, Mr. Antolini still following him. Holden finally escapes the "peverty" incident, recalling that peverty stuff like that has happened to him "about 20 times since I was a kid."

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