The narrator of the Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield, describes his departure from his school Pency Prep as follows:
“What I was really hanging around for, I was trying to feel some kind of a good-bye. I mean I’ve left schools and places I didn’t even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don’t care if it’s a sad good-bye or a bad good-bye, but when I leave a place I like to know I’m leaving it. If you don’t, you feel even worse.”
When analysing this text and reading through the novel we see a definite theme unfolds. Holden wants to find meaning to his life. He wants to feel he belongs somewhere. This passage explains that he is drastically leaving Pencey Prep because of his failing grades while his progression to having responsibility as an adult has failed. Holden wants to feel his "good-bye" so he can say it was not all for nothing. Holden wants to have a sense of belonging, and wants to comfort himself and say he had some sort of happy memories at Pencey. We can see that Holden wants to be attached to something, yet does not know what it is.
“The other reason I wasn’t down at the game was I was on my way to say good-bye to old Spencer, my history teacher.” On his way to Spencer's home to say good-bye, Holden feels terribly cold. There is no sun, and he feels as though he might disappear as he crosses Route 204 to go to Spencer's house. This is the first of several instances when Holden feels he is losing himself or falling into an abyss. Second, The fact that Holden is on his way to bid farewell to his history teacher, Mr. Spencer, indicates that he does care about people and this makes it difficult to say good-bye. Holden has been expelled for academic failure and is not to return after Christmas break, which begins the following Wednesday. Even though he failed history with an abysmal performance, Holden does not blame the instructor. He likes old Spencer. Spencer's farewell turns into a lecture on discipline. Holden finally manages to...
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