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Mr. Antolini’s Betrayal; Holden’s Downfall

Mr. Antolini’s Betrayal; Holden’s Downfall

An analysis on the turning point of JD Salinger’s "The Catcher in the Rye".

             The book The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, is about a troubled young man named Holden Caufield. Holden causes a desperate situation for himself, in which he leaves school and lives on his own in New York City for a few days. Towards the end of his experience, he turns to an old friend of his: Mr. Antolini. Mr. Antolini allows Holden to come to his house and sits him down for some advice Holden desperately needs to hear. However, Holden discards this incite because of what Mr. Antolini does afterwards.

            After Holden goes to sleep on Antolini’s couch, he awakes to find Mr. Antolini patting him on the head. Holden immediately begins to freak out, and leaves the apartment as fast as possible. Holden’s life would change dramatically had he not been betrayed by his friend. He would have taken Antolini’s advice much more seriously, his immediate future would change and have new consequences, and Holden’s behavior would not have become more erratic in the final scenes of the novel.

            Firstly, a major repercussion of Antolini’s strange behavior is what happens to Holden’s idea of who Antolini is. At first, Holden sees Antolini as a well respected man that he can listen to and open up with. After Antolini’s actions, Holden no longer has much respect for the man and his advice becomes worthless. This has an immediate impact on Holden, because his last resort for comfort and advice has now become an enemy. Also, the ideas Antolini gave him, with or without Antolini himself, will have no lasting effect on Holden or the decisions he makes regarding his future. Another result, which is tied to his new outlook on Antolini, is what Holden does in the near future.

            If Mr. Antolini let Holden sleep, Holden probably would have woken up the next morning with some sense in his head. He may have even gone home. Instead, Holden was forced to leave the Antolini’s apartment in the middle of the night, shocked and even more depressed than before, with nowhere to turn. Holden probably felt lost, and began to act impulsively as a result. Holden most likely could have acted more prudently, but with the amount of pressure he was under and the hopelessness he felt, it was almost expected that he would lose his head in the end.

            After leaving the Antolinis’ apartment abruptly, Holden’s choices became dictated by anxiety and fear. He begins to act extremely rashly, and barely thinks out what consequences his actions might have. Maybe, if Mr. Antolini had helped Holden when he needed guidance, Holden could have avoided being put in the mental hospital altogether. After turning to someone for help and being put in a worse situation by the very same person, it is understandable to start acting bizarre. Holden had been through a lot, and predictably went into an emotional spiral. All of these factors branched off from Mr. Antolini letting Holden down when he needed him the most.

            Holden was an anguished boy in need of counseling. Instead, his role model let him down and caused his ditch to be dug deeper. Mr. Antolini’s words would have taken seed in Holden’s mind had he not tarnished his reputation in Holden’s eyes immediately afterwards. Holden could have gotten back on his feet and made an effort to change himself for the better. Unfortunately, he was put in a darker place by his friend and ended up paying for it.

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