Holden has been expelledfrom Pencey for academic failure, and after an unpleasant evening with hisself-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 Citybefore returning to his parents’ Manhattan apartment. In New York, he succumbsto increasing feelings of loneliness and desperation brought on by the hypocrisyand ugliness of the adult world; he feels increasingly tormented by the memoryof his younger brother Allie’s death, and his life is complicated by hisburgeoning sexuality. He wants to see his sister Phoebe and his old girlfriendJane Gallagher, but instead he spends his time with Sally Hayes, a shallowsocialite Holden’s age, and Carl Luce, a pretentious Columbia student Holdentreats as a source of sexual knowledge Increasingly lonely, Holden finallydecides to sneak back to his parents’ apartment to talk to Phoebe. He borrowssome 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 towardhim, Holden leaves his apartment, and spends the rest of the night on a bench inGrand Central Station. The next day Holden experiences the worst phase of hisnervous breakdown. He wanders the streets, looking at children and talking toAllie. He tries to leave New York forever and hitchhike west, but when Phoebeinsists on going with him he relents, agreeing to go back home to protect hissister from the ugliness of the world. He takes her to the park, and watches herride on the merry-go-round; he suddenly feels overwhelmed by an inexplicable,intense happiness.
Holden concludes his story by refusing to talk about whathappened 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 regretstelling his story to so many people; talking about it, he says, makes him misseveryone.