The Catcher in the Rye Chapters 25–26 Summary and Analysis
by J. D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye book cover
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Chapters 25–26 Summary and Analysis

Chapter 25 

Leaving Mr. Antolini’s, Holden takes the subway to Grand Central Station. He tries to sleep on one of the benches in the waiting room, but isn’t able to sleep for long, as “a million people” begin to arrive at the station in the morning. Holden wakes up to a worsened headache, feeling “more depressed than [he] ever was in [his] whole life.”

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Holden begins to think about Mr. Antolini. He feels confused, wondering if he made a mistake. He remembers Mr. Antolini’s kindness and councel. He remembers how it was Mr. Antolini who picked up James Castle’s body.

To take his mind off of Mr. Antolini, Holden begins reading a magazine left on the bench beside him. The magazine articles about hormones and signs of cancer worry Holden. Even though he’s not hungry, he decides to go buy something for breakfast.

Holden begins to feel ill. He orders coffee and doughnuts at a restaurant but is only able to drink the coffee. Walking on Fifth Avenue, Holden notices the signs of Christmas around the city. He remembers taking Phoebe Christmas shopping downtown.

As Holden walks, something “very spooky started happening.” Every time he steps off a curb, he has a feeling that he’ll never get to the other side of the street, that he’ll “just go down, down, down.” He begins talking to his brother Allie, begging him to not let him disappear, and thanking him each time he reaches the other side of the street.

Holden finally stops and sits on a bench. He fantasizes about hitchhiking out West and starting a new, anonymous life. In a frenzy of excitement, he buys some stationery to write a note to his sister Phoebe and hurries to her school to give her the note.

At Phoebe’s school, Holden writes her a note inviting her to meet him at the museum. Holden sees graffiti on the wall of the school and becomes very angry, rubbing it off. Holden gives his note to a secretary, and on his way out of the school becomes depressed to see another “Fuck you” graffiti sign.

Holden goes to the museum to wait for Phoebe. He helps two boys find the Egyptian mummies. The boys become afraid and leave, and Holden is alone in the tomb. The peaceful moment is ruined when he sees another “Fuck you” written on the wall.

Holden feels sick and goes to the bathroom. Afterward, he “passes out” briefly. Holden goes back to the museum entrance to wait for Phoebe, imagining his new life out West and how he will arrange visits with his family members.

Finally, Phoebe arrives, dragging a large suitcase. Phoebe announces that she has packed her clothes and wants to go with him.

Holden feels like he might faint again. He tells Phoebe to shut up and refuses to let her come. Phoebe cries, and Holden reminds her of the play she is in. He “almost [hates] her,” thinking about how she would miss the play if she went away with him.

Phoebe is furious. She turns her back to Holden and throws his red hunting hat at him. She refuses to go back to school and tells Holden to shut up. Holden tells her that he won’t go out West and that he’ll go home instead, and he begins walking to the zoo. Phoebe follows him to the zoo and slowly begins to talk to him again. Holden buys her tickets to ride the carousel, and even though it begins to rain, he feels “so damn happy” watching her ride around and around.

Chapter 26 

Holden tells readers that he has finished his story. He decides not to share about how he went home, how he got sick, or what school he will attend next.

Holden explains that people keep asking him if he plans to apply himself when he returns to school, which he believes is “a stupid question,” because he can’t predict it.

Although D.B. “isn’t as bad as the rest of them,” he also asks Holden a lot of questions. On a visit, D.B. asks Holden what his thoughts are about the experiences he has recounted. Holden admits that he doesn’t know what to think about his story and that he regrets telling “so many people about it.” He confides that...

(The entire section is 1,450 words.)