Holden”s former English teacher from Elkton Hills, Holden’s old school. Mr. Antolini is now an instructor at New York University. Mr. Antolini is one of the few adults Holden respects, and one of the few who is willing to engage with Holden without letting him get away with any of his usual tricks of evasion. When Holden needs a place to stay on his last night of roaming New York City, he calls Mr. Antolini, and though it’s quite late, Mr. Antolini tells him to come over as soon as he wants. When he arrives, he sees that Mr. Antolini and his wife, Mrs. Antolini, have just finished having a party. Mr. Antolini is a bit tipsy, but this doesn’t stop him from sitting down with Holden and talking to him about his expulsion from Pencey. Before long, he begins to lecture Holden, but what he says differs from the standard advice that people like Mr. Spencer have already imparted to him. Instead of talking about Holden’s repeated failures, Mr. Antolini says that he’s worried about Holden because he thinks he’s headed for a life of disillusionment and bitterness. Not wanting the young man to continue closing himself off to life’s many wonderful possibilities, he urges Holden to drop his cynicism, saying that such pessimistic mindsets aren’t worth clinging to in life. Rather than dooming himself to a miserable existence or self-destruction, Mr. Antolini tells Holden that he should instead make an active effort to better himself. Unfortunately, though, Mr. Antolini ruins his sound advice by later stroking Holden’s head while the boy sleeps on his couch. Holden wakes up to find his former teacher standing before him and touching his brow, prompting him to jump up and leave as fast as he can, thinking that Mr. Antolini is a “pervert.” Of course, it’s never clear whether or not Mr. Antolini’s actions were sexually motivated, but it is clear that his behavior was inappropriate. At the very least, his strange affection has the negative effect of forcing Holden to second-guess their relationship and, thus, everything Mr. Antolini has told him.
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The The Catcher in the Rye quotes below are all either spoken by Mr. Antolini or refer to Mr. Antolini. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
).Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Little, Brown edition of The Catcher in the Rye published in 2001.
This fall I think you’re riding for—it’s a special kind of fall, a horrible kind. The man falling isn’t permitted to feel or hear himself hit bottom. He just keeps falling and falling. The whole arrangement’s designed for men who, at some time or other in their lives, were looking for something their own environment couldn’t supply them with. Or they thought their own environment couldn’t supply them with. So they gave up looking.
Related Characters:Mr. Antolini (speaker), Holden Caulfield
Explanation and Analysis:
Page Number and Citation:246Cite this Quote
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