Critique de la raison pratique

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Emmanuel Kant

Phoebe Caulfield—Similarly, Phoebe is not a major character in the novel (there are no real major characters in the novel other than Holden). But she does play a significant role in Holden’s life in that she ultimately directs his ways. It is to see her that he returns home, and does not venture into some unknown territory. It is by conversing with her and being real with her, that finds any meaning or point in life. She helps inspire his vocation and point him to an extraordinary calling—even if it is idealistic.

Holden attempts to preserve Phoebe’s innocence—and the innocence of all the children in the school—by rubbing out the “Fuck you” signs he sees in the school. However, what he soon realizes is that such signs are everywhere. By simply being a good big brother to Phoebe and not trying to protect her from every possible harm that might befall her, Holden learns how to love. For example, rather than race across the street to keep Phoebe from danger, he lets her go, trusting that she will follow him and see where he is going even when passing vehicles momentarily block her from view. By allowing her to work through things on her own, Holden shows the patience and trust she needs to see to come back to him. His kindness and charity ultimately wins her love in the end—and their relationship becomes a kind of happy ending.

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