The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

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What is the importance of Holden's confrontation with Mr. Spencer?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In chapter 1, Holden visits his teacher Mr. Spencer and has an uncomfortable conversation regarding his performance in school, future goals, and life trajectory. Holden visits his teacher after he receives notice that he will be expelled from Pencey Prep. Holden indicates that he likes Mr. Spencer and respectfully decides to say his final goodbyes to his favorite teacher. Once their conversation begins, Mr. Spencer attempts give Holden a typical adult lecture regarding the importance of taking life seriously and applying oneself. Mr. Spencer compares life to a game and says that one must play according to the rules. Holden thinks to himself,

Game, my ass. Some game. If you get on the side where all the hot-shots are, then it's a game, all right--I'll admit that. But if you get on the other side, where there aren't any hot-shots, then what's a game about it? Nothing. No game" (Salinger 5)

Mr. Spencer then proceeds to discuss Holden's history essay as Holden begins to daydream about where the...

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