The Catcher in the Rye Questions and Answers
by J. D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye book cover
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What record did Holden get for Phoebe in The Catcher in the Rye and why?

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Kitty Sharp eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Holden decides to go visit Phoebe, and he buys her the record "Little Shirley Beans" as a gift.  It's a children's record, so he thinks that she will like it.  However, on his way home through the park, Holden drops the record and it shatters.  When he gets home, he gives the record to Phoebe anyway, explaining what happened on his way through the park.  Phoebe knows immediately that Holden has yet again been kicked out of school, and she is angry with him because he cannot stay in school, not because the record is broken. 

The broken record is symbolic of both Holden's losing his innocence and his life "shattering" into little pieces.  Holden cannot seem to keep his life on a straight path, and the record symbolizes Holden's mistakes at school.  Normally, Phoebe is supportive of Holden, however, he must now realize that he cannot get away with any behavior that he chooses to exhibit because there will be consequences in the end.

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atyourservice | Student

Holden bought the record Little Shirely Beans for Phoebe, the record was made for children and he know phoebe will love it. Another reason he bought it was because he felt like the singer wasn't a phony, as she didnt try to do a cutesy voice most of the children singers did. Instead she sang it like an adult, and he liked that feeling.

katie13192 | Student

The Record that Holden bought for Phoebe was "Little Shirely Beans," which was obviously intended for children. Holden buys the reocrd for Phoebe because he wants her to maintain her innocence.  But when he drops the record in the park, it shatters. The shattering of a children's record represents the shattering of innocence. Holden desperately scrambles to pick up the pieces of the record because he is trying to maintain all the innocence he can find.