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A Flat character is one who does not go through significant changes throughout the novel and who also serves as a support system to the min character. In “The Catcher to the Rye,” Phoebe is seen as a flat character while her brother Holden is seen as a round character. Phoebe is seen as Holden’s support structure a she is the one who he confides in and goes to. We see this when Holden jumps off the train at Penn Station and Phoebe is one of the several people he thinks of calling. We all see him wishing to call her again when he goes into the Lavender room at the Edmond Hotel. It is through this that we see the strength of their relationship and how reliant he is on Phoebe. He sees her as hi confidant, the one who he can go to with any problem and who he can have a conversation with. In chapter 9 we learn of Phoebe being Holden’s “kid sister.” However it is only in chapter 10 that he paints and image of her to us. “You’d like her. I mean if you tell old Phoebe something, she knows exactly what the hell you’re talking about. I mean you can even take her anywhere with you. If you take her to a lousy movie, for instance, she knows it’s a lousy movie. If you take her to a pretty good movie, she knows it’s a pretty good movie.” Through this we come to see the kind of closeness they share, that they go for movies together and that her brother loves her company because she has a very humorous personality. We learn that she is a 10 year old, with red hair and is “roller skate skinny.” We also learn that Phoebe for her age is above average, she is pretty smart and understanding and she is quite capable of grasping things told to her. She is a very emotional child and is “a little too affectionate.” She loves to write books although she never finishes them. She is also somebody that everyone loves talking to especially Holden. As he related to us further in chapter 10, “anyway, she was somebody you always felt like talking to on the phone.”In chapter 21, we are able to see that Phoebe cannot be fooled easily and that she sees right through Holden.
She realizes that he is back earlier than expected as he has been expelled. She also makes it a point to be his voice of reason, and tells him that, “daddy’s gonna kill you.” She refuses to talk to him and places a pillow over her head. You can see the frustration in her as she is unable to figure out why he can’t succeed in school like her. Phoebe and Holden have a long catch up session, in which he fills her in about school etc. In chapter 22, although she is still somewhat frustrated with Holden and can’t seem to figure his likes, she still manages to cover up for him when their parents arrive. Holden goes to hide and Phoebe takes the brunt for smoking. This is another incident in which we come to see her as being his support structure. She covers up for him so that he wouldn’t get into trouble.
After her mother leaves the room, Holden comes out from hiding and says to her “Listen. You got any dough, Phoeb? I’m practically broke.” Phoebe says she has some as she did not spend any money and she offers to lend him some money. It is through this that we see her as a caring nature, one who is probably like a mother figure for Holden. Despite being angry with him she still cares for him deeply and she would do anything to make his life a bit more comfortable. After Phoebe gave Holden her cash he began to cry, she sat there and held him until he stopped. Once again showing her motherly nature.In the last two chapters of the book we see that Phoebe is worried about her brothers well being more than her own. After she received his goodbye letter, she decided to pack her suitcase to go with him. She didn’t need to go, it’s not like she needed to run away from anyone or anything but she wanted to go to make sure he was safe. From this we come to see of her innocence in which she didn’t see it wrong of her to run away from home.
We see her childlike nature when Holden refuses to take her, with him. Phoebe pouts at him and starts to cry. He than tries to pacify her but she doesn’t give in. Eventually Holden tell Phoebe that he will go back home and this makes her stop crying although it doesn’t solve her being mad at him.He than takes her to the zoo to try and set her mood right. He lets her go on the carousel twice. It is when Phoebe tries to reach the ring while on the carousel that Holden realizes that this represents Phoebe maturing. As well as it makes Holden realize that he need to mature.It is through Phoebe and her nature and comforting ways that Holden realizes his need to mature. She makes him realize that he needs to move on from his youth and innocence and that he needs to man up. It is through Phoebe’s perseverance, and her mother like nature that she is able to hold a constant image in this novel. Her role in this novel was to be a structure of strength to Holden, which she played extremely well and she was capable of pulling it of.
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