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The Catcher in the Rye

by J. D. Salinger

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What is Holden's attitude towards teachers Spencer and Antolini in The Catcher in the Rye?

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Holden has done well in one subject, English, at Pencey Prep, because he had the same assignments at his former school. Holden considers Mr. Antolini, his former English teacher at Elkton Hills, the best teacher he ever had. Holden has great respect for Mr. Antonili, he looks up to him, when he has no place left to go, when he is in NYC, he calls him and ends up sleeping on his couch. It is clear that Holden also had feelings for his History teacher at Pencey Prep, Mr. Spencer, because once he knows that he is not coming back to school after the holiday vacation, he goes to Spencer's house to say goodbye, because the older man is home sick with the grip. Spencer is an older man than Antolini, and when Holden goes over to visit him, he can hardly stand looking at him in his pajamas, the smell of Vicks ointment is overpowering. He has failed Mr. Spencer's class, but still cares about the teacher, so much so that on his exam, instead of answering the question in full, he writes Mr. Spencer an apology note about being sorry for not knowing enough about the Ancient Egyptians. He respects Mr. Spencer, but once the older man starts to lecture Holden about taking life seriously and performing academically, he makes a quick exit from his house. Holden calls Mr. Antolini, who he thinks is really cool, when he has no place else to go while in NYC. Once he gets to the Antolini apartment, he realizes that they have been drinking and partying with friends. Mr. Antolini scares Holden a little bit here, but he is so exhausted, that he accepts the offer to sleep on his couch. Suddenly, Holden wakes up with a start to discover his teacher, Mr. Antolini stroking his face while he slept. He jumps up and runs out of the apartment, frightened that Antolini was making homosexual advances at him. Holden sees Mr. Spencer more like a grandfather, an older man, someone he respects. Mr. Antolini is a cool swinger to Holden, until he appears to make advances at him, then he runs for his life.

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