Shy of hard work, he drops out of school only to chase women and parties. This is his world where he lives with his siblings among whom there is Phoebe Caulfield. The fourth grader called Phoebe is the only one who can move Holden to tears, happiness and everything else is between. The story is how he sees his failures about to take her over which is when he fears the idea of not working hard. His transformation and denunciation of everything "phony" is where the story ends.
The passage being studied here is one where Holden is having a conversation with someone who is Phoebe's friend. It is apparent from Holden's expressions and mannerisms that he is not aware of this friend or the secret trips that Phoebe has been taking with her to museums and other places.
This passage is important in the sense that it offers a revelation of sorts to Holden and his sensibilities. To begin with, there is a possibility that his sister has been missing school. Further, he sees something of himself in her. In the beginning his rebellious nature had seem natural to him, to the point that he was actually proud of the fact that he did not feel the need to depend on education or an institution to get ahead in life. But the possibility of his sister treading the same path takes him by shock and fills him with a certain amount of fear and dread. Without realizing it himself, Holden sees the darkness one faces without the backing of hard work and education, among various other elements that one must follow in life.
It is at this precise moment that Holden achieves the courage to transform himself. In Phoebe he sees himself and his greatest fears. He realizes that he has actually been running away from the truth and not from a sense of boredom that one inevitably complains of when in school. The truth is that he is not hard working and hard work is all it takes to get somewhere in life. It is during this passage that the author, through almost clipped and muted dialogues, reveals the layers of Holden's character without actually penning them down. The language used in this passage is sharp enough to make the reader actually feel the turmoil in Holden's mind. With minimal display of hard hitting words from the characters in this passage, the author has managed to display the actual sound of Holden's mind and the voice booming inside it.
The passage progresses to show Phoebe tying on her skates when she is actually meant to be in school. The very irony of this is in the texture of the words used by the author when the dialogue between Holden and Phoebe's friend ends abruptly to show Phoebe regarding her skates, in the very same passage. This almost shows the strong bond that exists between the brother and sister through the mention of the skate as skating is something that Holden had very passionately taught his little sister.
The charm of this passage lies in its ability to transport the reader. The theme is a reflective one as the past and present seem to merge in Holden's mind. With the use of crisp sentences, the author shows a reminiscent Holden wandering along the museum. He realizes that he knows every inch of this place owing to the frequent visits he used to make here with his sister. The very thought of his sister brings the turmoil back. In this regard, the theme is a strong one where the times blend very slowly, yet very surely, in Holden's mind. He is not being able to decide what