A Catcher In The Rye - Summary The Catcher in the Rye is
narrated by Holden Caulfield, a sixteen year-old boy recuperating in a rest
home from a nervous breakdown, some time in 1950. Holden tells the
story of his last day at a school called Pencey Prep, and of his subsequent
psychological meltdown in New York City. Holden has been expelled
from Pencey for academic failure, and after an unpleasant evening
with his self-satisfied roommate Stradlater and their pimply next-door
neighbor Ackley, he decides to leave Pencey for good and spend a few days
alone in New York City before returning to his parents' Manhattan apartment.
In New York, he succumbs to increasing feelings of loneliness and
desperation brought on by the hypocrisy and ugliness of the adult world; he
feels increasingly tormented by the memory of his younger brother
Allie's death, and his life is complicated by his burgeoning sexuality.
He wants to see his sister Phoebe and his old girlfriend Jane Gallagher, but
instead he spends his time with Sally Hayes, a shallow socialite Holden's
age, and Carl Luce, a pretentious Columbia student Holden treats as a source
of sexual knowledge
Increasingly lonely, Holden finally decides to sneak back to his parents'
apartment to talk to Phoebe. He borrows some money from her, then goes to
stay with his former English teacher, Mr. Antolini. When he believes Mr.
Antolini to be making a homosexual advance toward him, Holden leaves his
apartment, and spends the rest of the night on a bench in
Grand Central Station. The next day Holden experiences the worst phase of
his nervous breakdown. He wanders the streets, looking at children and
talking to Allie. He tries to leave New York forever and hitchhike west, but
when Phoebe insists on going with him he relents, agreeing to go back home
to protect his sister from the ugliness of the world. He takes her to the
park, and watches her ride on the merry-go-round; he suddenly
feels overwhelmed by an inexplicable, intense happiness. Holden
concludes his story by refusing to talk about what happened after that,
but he fills in the most important details: he went home, was sent to
the rest home, and will attend a new school next year. He regrets
telling his story to so many people; talking about it, he says, makes
him miss everyone.