The Catcher in the Rye Chapter 22 Summary and Analysis
by J. D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye book cover
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Chapter 22 Summary and Analysis

New Character
James Castle: the boy who committed suicide at Elkton Hills School

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After leaving Phoebe to get cigarettes in the living room, Holden returns to the bedroom. Phoebe’s response to Holden’s expulsion is “Daddy’ll kill you.” Holden says that his dad will either send him to a military school, or that nothing will happen because Holden will be on a ranch in Colorado. Phoebe continues to press Holden as to why he was expelled. He resents the questioning and says that he is tired of everyone asking him that question. Holden, however, does tell Phoebe how bad it was at Pencey. He mentions all the phonies and mean guys there. Holden sums up his feelings when he exclaims, “I can’t explain. I just didn’t like anything that was happening at Pencey. I can’t explain.” Equally exasperated, Phoebe sternly says to Holden that he does not like anything. Phoebe challenges him to name one thing that he likes a lot. The challenge takes him by surprise, and the only things that come to mind are the nuns he met in the restaurant and James Castle, a boy at Elkton Hills who committed suicide. Finally, he responds that he likes Allie and likes being with Phoebe. Phoebe asks Holden to think of what he would like to be. She suggests that he might become a scientist or a lawyer. But he rejects them both. Holden then announces to Phoebe that he would like to be “the catcher in the rye,” the protector, who watches over the children, and keeps them from falling off a cliff at the edge of a field of rye.

Discussion and Analysis
Phoebe speaks for all of us when she confronts Holden with, “You don’t like anything that’s happening.” Holden finds fault with everyone and everything to the exasperation of Phoebe and the reader. She finally says what most readers probably have been wanting to say to him throughout the book. Holden is caught off guard by her directness and is clearly embarrassed as he tries to respond. His first thought is of the nuns and James Castle. He is greatly impressed by the nuns’ altruism and dedication. He is equally moved by the convictions, however misplaced, of James Castle.

It is fascinating that Holden has such...

(The entire section is 595 words.)