The Catcher in the Rye Mr. Antolini
by J. D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye book cover
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Mr. Antolini

Extended Character Analysis

Mr. Antolini is Holden’s English teacher from his previous school, Elkton Hills. Mr. Antolini is young, intelligent, and suave, with a nice home in New York City. He has a propensity for smoking and drinking. Holden calls him up in the middle of the night to ask for help. Mr. Antolini readily invites Holden to his home to stay the night on his couch. After Holden arrives, Mr. Antolini’s wife serves Holden coffee before going to bed, and Mr. Antolini stays up with Holden to talk with him.

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Mr. Antolini represents academia and demonstrates the benefits of becoming a learned person. He shows Holden how schooling can help a person make sense of the universal problems of life. He believes that Holden is experiencing a type of “fall” and is trying to “die nobly” for an unimportant cause. He tries to convince Holden to instead “live humbly” and return to school with vigor. Mr. Antolini cares for Holden and also appears to be close to Holden’s family. Seemingly the only paternal figure Holden interacts with, Mr. Antolini appears to be at the beneficent end of the mentor spectrum. He cares for Holden and works to make sure Holden is not only paying attention but also understanding him as he tries to help.

In contrast to Holden’s stodgy and rude history teacher, Mr. Spencer, Mr. Antolini is young and enlightened. He does not try to shame Holden. Rather, he wants to lift him from his “fall.” Holden recalls Mr. Antolini’s kindness at his past school, Elkton Hills. Holden’s classmate James Castle killed himself by jumping out of a window. Holden remembers that everyone gathered around James but wouldn’t touch him. Mr. Antolini, however, was the only person who was willing to pick James up. Holden recalls how Mr. Antolini carried James to the infirmary, not caring that James’s blood was getting all over his jacket. In contrast to the other adults that Holden encounters, Mr. Antolini appears to understand Holden’s predicament. The suicide of James Castle is an encounter that ties Holden and...

(The entire section is 533 words.)