What was the difference between Mr. Spencer's advice and Mr. Antolini's advice in Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye?

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tinicraw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The difference between the two teachers made the difference in the advice they gave Holden. First, Mr. Spencer was old and sickly which didn't sit well with Holden as a visual aide for listening. Holden also critically analyzed everything Spencer was doing while he spoke. But the worst thing that left Spencer with little rapport with Holden was the way he called him "boy" and asked short, insensitive questions. Holden said, "I wished to hell he'd stop calling me 'boy' all the time" (12). So Holden fed Spencer all of the normal things a boy should say to a teacher in a respectful response. On the other hand, Mr. Antolini was younger, had a better rapport with students, and was a family friend. Antolini had a longer history with the Caulfields and Holden that would have made Holden listen better had he not been so sleepy at the time. Also, Antolini's answer was more heart-felt and philosophical than Spencer's was. Antolini tried to make a case for the benefits of education while also showing his concern for Holden's choices and possible consequences of his actions.


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