Why was the narrator back at Pency at 2:30 instead of around dinnertime in Chapter 1 of Catcher in the Rye?
The narrator, Holden Caufield, is back at Pency at two-thirty instead of at around dinnertime as had been planned because the fencing match which he was supposed to be attending could not be played that day. Holden is the manager of the team, a "very big deal", and as manager he had failed in a very important duty. He is in charge of the equipment for the team, but he had forgotten "all the foils and equipment and stuff" on the subway on the way to their destination. Because of his error, the fencing team had been unable to have its meet with McBurney School in New York. Needless to say, the whole team was angry at Holden for his inefficiency, and "ostracized (him) the whole way back on the train".
Throught this incident, the reader is given an insight into Holden's personality in the very first chapter. Holden has a hard time taking responsibility for the things he does, and this incident is no exception. He says that his failure to make sure the fencing equipment made its way to McBurney School is not all his fault. He uses the excuse that he had to keep gettin up from his seat on the subway to refer to a map so that they would all know where to get off. Holden blames his blunder on this distraction, taking the full responsibility for the fiasco off of his own shoulders, at least in his own mind (Chapter 1).