Catcher in The Rye (El guardián entre el centeno)
The Catcher in the Rye begins with the statement by the narrator, Holden Caulfield, that he will not tell about his "lousy" childhood and "all that David Copperfield kind of crap" because such details bore him. He describes his parents as nice, but "touchy as hell." Instead, Holden vows to tell about what happened to him around last Christmas, before he had to take it easy. He also mentions his brother, D.B., who is nearby in Hollywood "being a prostitute." Holden was a student at Pencey Prep in Agerstown, Pennsylvania, and he mocks their advertisements, which claim to have been molding boys into clear-thinking young men since 1888. Holden begins his story during the Saturday of the football game with Saxon Hall, which was supposed to be a very big deal at Pencey. Selma Thurmer, the daughter of the headmaster, is at the game. Although she is unattractive and a bit pathetic, to Holden she seems nice enough, for she does not lavish praise upon her father. Holden, the manager of the fencing team, had just returned from New York with the team. Although they were supposed to have a meet with the McBurney School, Holden left the foils on the subway. The fencing team was angry at Holden, but he thought the entire event was funny in a way. Holden does not attend the football game, instead choosing to say goodbye to Spencer, his history teacher, who knew that Holden was not coming back to Pencey. Holden had recently been expelled for failing four classes.
J.D. Salinger begins The Catcher in the Rye with a bold and sarcastic declaration. His main character immediately rejects the idea that the events that he describes in the novel consist of his life story or that this story is indicative of any larger message. He eschews the Dickensian idea of literature, in which plot points and narrative progression serve a moral end, and rather adopts a discursive style with no concrete Œmessage.' Salinger resists the idea that Catcher in the Rye serves an instructive end or acts as a cautionary tale; rather, as Holden insists, it is a tale that exists independent of any larger meaning or message.
Although Holden insists that his story serves no larger purpose, in this first chapter Salinger establishes several conventions of a cautionary tale. Holden indicates that he has to "take it easy" at a new place, strongly implying that he now is found receiving psychiatric help. Also, details of Holden's life indicate that he is pursuing an aimless and self-destructive path. Expelled from school for failing several classes, Holden essentially describes himself as a perpetual failure. Even worse, in his failings he takes a complete disregard for others. His solipsistic self-destruction makes him unable to grasp the consequences of his actions. When he loses the fencing equipment on the trip to New York, he is unable to comprehend that his action was irresponsible; instead, he focuses on how he feels his mistake, which he insists is not his fault, is humorous.
Holden Caulfield is in many ways a typical teenager, skeptical of all authority and with a truculent attitude that stems from a cynical naïveté. Within the first several paragraphs he dismisses his parents as "touchy" and his brother as a sellout to Hollywood consumerism, yet provides no real critique of their behavior. With the exception of Mr. Spencer and, to a more limited extent, Selma Thurmer, Holden displays contempt for every character he mentions and all of the actions they undertake. The one value that he tends to espouse is authenticity, although he has no concrete definition of what this entails. Although he finds Selma Thurmer's failed attempts to artificially better her appearance, his greatest compliment about the headmaster's daughter is that she portrays her father honestly, in Holden's view. This focus on authenticity and, in turn, the essential phoniness of others around him, will be a recurring theme for Holden Caulfield throughout the story.
Holden finds the Spencer's house somewhat depressing, smelling of Vicks Nose Drops and clearly indicating the old age of its inhabitants. Mr. Spencer sits in a ratty old bathrobe, and asks Holden to sit down. Holden tells him how Dr. Thurmer told him about how "life is a game" and you should "play it according to the rules" when he expelled him. Mr. Spencer tells him that Dr. Thurmer was correct, and Holden agrees with him, but thinks instead that life is only a game if you are on the right side. Holden tells Mr. Spencer that his parents will be upset, for this is his fourth private school so far. Holden tells that, at sixteen, he is over six feet tall and has some gray hair, but still acts like a child, as others often tell him. Spencer says that he met with Holden's parents, who are "grand" people, but Holden dismisses that word as "phony." Spencer then tells Holden that he failed him in History because he knew nothing, and even reads his exam essay about the Egyptians to him. At the end of the exam, Holden left a note for Mr. Spencer, admitting that he is not interested in the Egyptians, despite Spencer's interesting lectures, and that he will accept if Mr. Spencer fails him. As Holden and Mr. Spencer continue to talk, Holden's mind wanders; he thinks about the ducks in Central Park. When Mr. Spencer asks why Holden quit Elkton Hills, he tells Mr. Spencer that it is a long story, but explains in narration that the people there were phonies. He mentions the particular quality of the headmaster, Mr. Haas, who would be charming toward everyone but the "funny-looking parents." Holden claims he has little interest in the future, and assures Mr. Spencer that he is just going through a phase. As Holden leaves, he hears Mr. Spencer say "good luck," a phrase that he particularly loathes.
In this chapter, Salinger continues to develop the history of Holden Caulfield in direct contradiction of the opening statement that the novel is not his life story. Salinger gradually indicates that Caulfield has a longer history and troubles that are more deeply rooted than the conventional disaffected teenager, as he moves from boarding school to boarding school with no sense of purpose. Even Holden's style of narration reveals this lack of any coherent vision. He admits that he cannot concentrate on any particular topic, thinking about ice skating while Mr. Spencer lectures him.
As established in the previous chapter, Holden exemplifies typical teenage feelings of alienation. He rejects the idea that life is a game, convinced that he is a misunderstood underdog (an unlikely scenario for a teenager privileged enough to move easily among eastern prep schools), and justifies his immaturity by claiming that he is going through a phase. His critiques are glib and without actual substance, such as his insistence that other are "phonies" or his dislike of certain phrases such as "good luck." Holden's diatribes against phonies are particularly instructive; although he insists upon authenticity, he humors and flatters Mr. Spencer by agreeing with him. Holden demonstrates a great aversion for everything associated with adulthood, such as the smell of Vicks Nose Drops that permeates Mr. Spencer's home and the behavior of Mr. Haas, just as he occupies a precarious space between childhood and the adult world. In appearance he is an adult, with his tall stature and prematurely graying hair, yet as he and others around him realize, he is still quite immature.
Yet Salinger rejects the idea that Holden's behavior is typical and excusable adolescent behavior. He is not Mr. Spencer shatters this illusion by dismissing Holden's vague justifications for his behavior and confronting him with his failures. Mr. Spencer confronts Holden with his own failures and solipsistic attitude, a critique to which Holden cannot respond.
Holden claims that he is the most terrific liar one could meet. He admits that he lied to Spencer by telling him that he had to go to the gym. At Pencey, Holden lives in the Ossenburger Memorial Wing of the new dorms. Ossenburger is a wealthy undertaker who graduated from the school; Holden tells how false Ossenburger seemed when he gave a speech exalting faith in Jesus and how another student farted during the ceremony. Holden returns to his room, where he puts on a red hunting hat they he bought in New York. Holden discusses the books that he likes to read: he prefers Ring Lardner, but is now reading Dinesen's Out of Africa. Ackley, a student whose room is connected to Holden's, barges in on Holden. Holden describes Ackley as having a terrible personality and an even worse complexion. Holden tries to ignore him, then pretends that he is blind to annoy Ackley. Ackley cuts his nails right in front of Holden, and asks about Ward Stradlater, Holden's roommate. Ackley claims that he hates Stradlater, that "goddamn sonuvabitch," but Holden tells Ackley that he hates Stradlater for the simple reason that Stradlater told him that he should actually brush his teeth. Holden defends Stradlater, claiming that he is conceited, but still generous. Stradlater arrives, and is friendly to Holden (in a phony sort of way), and asks to borrow a jacket from Holden. Stradlater walks around shirtless to show off his build.
Holden's admission that he is the "most terrific liar" one could meet is an apt statement, for his delusions extend beyond making others believe his deceptions. In fact, it is debatable whether or not persons such as Mr. Spencer believe Holden's lies. Rather, it is clear that Holden's ability to lie is most manifest in his own sense of self-delusion. Continuing to berate others for phoniness, Holden cannot recognize the same sense of vapidity within himself. He claims to be both illiterate and an avid reader, and when identifying his favorite authors he cannot identify any particular reason why he likes those authors' works.
Salinger introduces two other Pencey students in this chapter, each of whom represent contrasting types of reprehensible behavior. Ackley is ostentatiously boorish; in appearance and in manners he is disgusting and oblivious to all social graces. Hopelessly vulgar and unclean, Ackley is unaware of the contempt that Holden Caulfield has for him, even when Holden confronts him with it. Stradlater, in contrast, is outwardly friendly and considerate, yet still one of the phonies that Holden abhors. Stradlater is playful and charming, but is still self-centered and arrogant. He flaunts his assets, whether physical or monetary; whether giving away a tie or strutting around the dormitory in a state of undress, he performs these actions to show what he possesses. These characters do, nevertheless, serve the purpose of showing the stifling conditions that Holden faces at Pencey. Ackley and Stradlater demonstrate that Holden's disgust for the school and its "phonies" is not completely unfounded.
However, Holden's descriptions of both of these characters cannot be trusted entirely; Holden is an unreliable narrator whose conceptions of the characters reveal his particular point of view. These descriptions must be taken with some skepticism, for they reveal Holden's skewed perspective on others. This also can be seen in Holden's description of Ossenburger. Holden can view his contribution to the school only in cynical terms: He thinks that Ossenburger prays to Jesus "to send him a few more stiffs." Holden is inherently suspicious of all around him, particularly authority figures. His view that adults serve only their self-interest is aggressively cynical; his disillusion with reality has become such that it forms a more jaded naïveté.
Since he has nothing else to do, Holden goes down to the bathroom to chat with Stradlater as he shaves. Stradlater, in comparison to Ackley, is a "secret" slob, who would always shave with a rusty razor that he would never clean. Stradlater is a "Yearbook" kind of handsome guy. He asks Holden to write a composition for him for English. Holden realizes the irony that he is flunking out of Pencey, yet is still asked to do work for others. Stradlater insists, however, that Holden not write it too well, for Hartzell knows that Holden is a hot-shot in English. On an impulse, Holden gives Stradlater a half nelson, which greatly annoys Stradlater. Stradlater talks about his date that night with Jane Gallagher. Although he cannot even get her name correct, Holden knows her well, for she lived next door to him several summers ago and they would play checkers together. Stradlater barely listens as he fixes his hair with Holden's gel. Holden asks Stradlater not to tell Jane that he got kicked out. He then borrows Holden's hound's-tooth jacket and leaves. Ackley returns, and Holden is actually glad to see him, for he takes his mind off of other matters.
Salinger devotes this chapter to Holden's fixation on Stradlater's behavior. Holden has an eye for detail and the nuances of Stradlater's behavior; he even analyzes the rhythm of the conversation that the two have when Stradlater asks Holden to write a paper for him. Stradlater emerges as conceited and self-centered, obsessed with his appearance and image. Although Holden does not employ his standard term "phony" to describe Stradlater in this chapter, he makes it clear that Stradlater exemplifies a strong sense of artificiality. According to Holden, Stradlater is "Yearbook" handsome, implying that his attractive appearance is best shown in photographs and is thus divorced from Stradlater's actual self. Salinger also makes the distinction between appearances and actuality when Holden describes Stradlater's razor, which demonstrates that Stradlater is only concerned with matters that relate to his public persona. Stradlater compounds his vanity with a strong egotism. He cannot even remember the name of his date that evening, and expects Holden to write his paper for him simply because he asked.
However, if Stradlater is vapid and superficial, Holden proves himself equally so by detailing each of these aspects of his roommate's behavior with such precision. Holden does not let any slight against him go unnoticed, such as Stradlater's use of his jacket and his hair gel. Like Stradlater, Holden has a narrow focus; however, his self-centered behavior does not center on physical appearance as it does with Stradlater. Both use others as means to a particular end. Stradlater uses Holden for favors such as writing papers, while Holden uses Ackley for amusement.
Stradlater does give the reader a new perspective on Holden Caulfield. Holden does have his merits, as Stradlater indicates when he asks him to write his composition. Beneath the cynical self-absorption Holden may be a talented and intelligent writer who fails to apply himself to tasks. Holden continues to behave erratically throughout the chapter. He does things purely out of impulse, such as giving Stradlater a half nelson. This pattern of behavior will continue throughout the novel on a greater scale.
On Saturday nights at Pencey the students are served steak; Holden believes this occurs because parents visit on Sunday and students can thus tell them that they had steak for dinner the previous night, as if it were a common occurrence. Holden goes with Ackley and Mal Brossard into New York City to see a movie, but since Ackley and Brossard had both seen that particular Cary Grant comedy, they play pinball and get hamburgers instead. When they return, Ackley remains in Holden's room, telling about a girl he had sex with, but Holden knows that he is lying, for whenever he tells that same story, the details always change. Holden tells him to leave so that he can write Stradlater's composition. He writes about his brother Allie's baseball mitt. Allie, born two years after Holden, died of leukemia in 1946. The night that Allie died, Holden broke all of the windows in his garage with his fist.
Salinger gives the first major indication of the source of Holden Caulfield's psychological troubles in this chapter when he describes the composition that Holden writes for Stradlater. Holden elaborates on his family history, telling about how his brother died of leukemia. This may be one of the events that has caused Holden's current psychological troubles, although as narrator Holden seems to resist such simplistic interpretations. Whatever the cause of his difficulties, the paper does reveal that Allie's death is still a major concern for Holden and that the erratic and often violent behavior that Holden demonstrates during the course of his tale has a precedent. This chapter also serves to reinforce Holden's deep cynicism and negative attitudes. Holden rarely describes an event without caustic comment, whether noting Ackley's lies or the Pencey dinner menu.
Stradlater returned late that night, thanked Holden for the jacket and asked if he did the composition for him. When Stradlater reads it, he gets upset at Holden, for it is simply about a baseball glove. Since Stradlater is upset, Holden tears up the composition. Holden starts smoking, just to annoy Stradlater. Holden asks about the date, but Stradlater doesn't give very much information, only that they spent most of the time in Ed Banky's car. Finally he asks if Stradlater "gave her the time" there. Stradlater says that the answer is a "professional secret," and Holden responds by trying to punch Stradlater. Stradlater pushes him down and sits with his knees on Holden's chest. He only lets Holden go when he agrees to say nothing more about Stradlater's date. When he calls Stradlater a moron, he knocks Holden out. Holden then goes to the bathroom to wash the blood off his face. Even though he claims to be a pacifist, Holden enjoys the look of blood on his face.
By this chapter, Salinger has established that Holden suffers some great psychological difficulties, yet knowledge of these instances come from secondary sources; in this chapter, Salinger brings Holden's unpredictable behavior to the fore. Holden behaves almost solely on impulse, even when there seems to be no rational motivation for his behavior. As this chapter demonstrates, this inability to control his behavior reaches far beyond any normal teenage impulses, as shown when Holden rips up Stradlater's essay when he fails to appreciate Holden's work. The fight between Stradlater and Holden also shows Holden's inability to control himself; when he suspects that Stradlater has slept with his old friend, Holden responds by punching him. This event reveals contradictory impulses within Holden. Although he claims that he is a pacifist, a dubious statement that reinforces his status as an unreliable narrator, Holden seems disconnected from the violence he causes and the pain that he suffers. He views his fight from a distant perspective, appreciating the look of his bloody face without considering the actual fight itself. This predilection for extreme behavior and lack of connection to his own actions will be a consistent theme throughout The Catcher in the Rye, as Holden continues to allow his behavior to reach disturbing extremes.
Ackley, who was awakened by the fight, comes in Holden's room to ask what happened. He tells Holden that he is still bleeding and should put something on his wounds. Holden asks if he can sleep in Ackley's room that night, since his roommate is away for the weekend, but Ackley says that he can't give him permission. Holden feels so lonesome that he wishes he were dead. Holden worries that Stradlater had sex with Jane during their date, because he knew that Stradlater was capable of seducing girls quickly. Holden asks Ackley whether or not one has to be Catholic to join a monastery. He then decides to leave Pencey immediately. He decides to take a room in a hotel in New York and take it easy until Wednesday. He packs ice skates that his mother had just sent him. The skates make him sad, because they are not the kind that he wanted. According to Holden, his mother has a way of making him sad whenever he receives a present. Holden wakes up Woodruff, a wealthy student, and sells him his typewriter for twenty bucks. Before he leaves, he yells "Sleep tight, ya morons."
Despite the fact that Holden is still bleeding from his fight with Stradlater, he remains curiously unconcerned with his wounds, allowing his mind to focus upon details external to his action physical condition. Holden reveals more of his psychology during this chapter. His greatest concern seems to be whether Stradlater seduced Jane Gallagher, revealing an unhealthy, if predictable, view on sexuality. Holden follows his thoughts on Jane Gallagher by musing about joining a monastery and thus becoming celibate. Holden seems to harbor a disgust for any type of sexuality, whether Ackley's obviously false boasts or Stradlater's successful seductions. At this point Salinger leaves ambiguous the actual reason why Holden would be concerned about Jane Gallagher in particular, for the only information Holden gives about Jane is that they would often play checkers together.
Holden finally reaches a breaking point in this chapter by leaving Pencey early, with no concrete plan for what he will do. In many ways this is typical of Holden's established patterns of behavior: impulsive, selfish and aimless. His final insult to his fellow students shows that Holden believes himself to be in some major respect different from the other Pencey students, possessing a greater, more acute intelligence. An innate sense of superiority, however unfounded, separates Holden from the other students, for he believes himself to be more honorable and Œdeep' than the vapid and self-centered Stradlater and more refined than the piggish Ackley. Yet Holden demonstrates qualities similar to those of his peers; he suffers from a self-imposed delusion that he is different and misunderstood and chooses to leave Pencey for an uncertain future.
Since it is too late to call a cab, Holden walks to the train station. On the train, a woman gets on at Trenton and sits right beside him, even though the train is nearly empty. She strikes up a conversation with him, noticing the Pencey sticker on his suitcase, and says that her son, Ernest Morrow, goes to Pencey as well. Holden remembers him as "the biggest bastard that ever went to Pencey." Holden tells her that his name is Rudolf Schmidt, the name of the Pencey janitor. Holden lies to Mrs. Morrow, pretending that he likes Pencey and that he is good friends with Ernest. She thinks that her son is Œsensitive,' an idea that Holden finds laughable, but Holden continues to tell lies about Ernest, such as that he would have been elected class president, but he was too modest to accept the nomination. Holden asks if she would like to join him for a cocktail in the club car. Finally, he tells her that he is leaving Pencey early because he has to have an operation; he claims he has a tumor on his brain. When she invites Holden to visit during the summer, he says that he will be spending the summer in South America with his grandmother.
In this chapter, Holden bolsters his earlier claim that he is an excellent liar, as his conversation with Mrs. Morrow contains nothing but falsehoods. The only statement that he makes to Mrs. Morrow that contains any truth is that he is a student at Pencey; otherwise, all of his statements are deliberately misleading. He tells Mrs. Morrow exactly what she wants to hear about her son, humoring her own sense of vanity and self-absorption by making her believe that her son, whom Holden loathes, is one of the most honorable and decent students at Pencey. These lies reveal the complete contempt that Holden holds for Mrs. Morrow and, by extension, all authority figures. He lies in order to mock Mrs. Morrow's sense of delusion while relishing the false view that she has of her son. Holden claims a sense of superiority over Mrs. Morrow, for he believes that he can see clearly Ernest Morrow's personality, while she has a false, idealized portrait of her son. Whatever her delusions, however, Holden treats Mrs. Morrow horribly. He views her either as a target for ridicule or a sexual object, as he flirts with her and even offers to buy her a drink. This chapter is indicative of Holden's state of mind. He takes a trait that demonstrates a typical teenage immaturity, in this case lying and flatter adults, and moves it to an unbearable extreme; his lies become more shameless and outlandish, revealing the disturbing disconnect between Holden's psyche and reality.
When Holden reaches New York, he does not know whom to call. He considers calling his kid sister, Phoebe, but she would be asleep and his parents would overhear. He also considers calling Jane Gallagher or Sally Hayes, another friend, but finally does not call anybody. He gets into a cab and absentmindedly gives the driver his home address, but soon realizes that he does not want to get home. He goes to the Edmond Hotel instead, where he stays in a shabby room. He looks out of the window and could see the other side of the hotel. From this view he can see other rooms; in one of them, a man takes off his clothes and puts on ladies' clothing, while in another a man and a woman spit their drinks at one another. Holden thinks that he's the "biggest sex maniac you ever saw," but then claims that he does not understand sex at all. He then thinks of calling Jane Gallagher but again decides against it, and instead considers calling a woman named Faith Cavendish, who was formerly a burlesque stripper and is not quite a prostitute. When he calls her, he continues to ask whether or not they could get a drink together, but she turns him down at every opportunity.
In the first part of this chapter, Salinger demonstrates that Holden has absolutely no purpose for his actions. He wavers between decisions, whether the decision involves whom he should call when he arrives or where he should go. Holden approaches these decisions haphazardly, almost reaching his home address before realizing that he wants to avoid his parents. His decision-making process, however, does reveal Holden's particular preoccupations. He has a fixation with Jane Gallagher that reaches beyond what the original mentions of her would indicate. When he thinks of Jane Gallagher, his mind wanders to sexual matters, but he does not think of sex related directly to her. This indicates that Holden suffers from a Madonna/whore complex; he can view a woman either in terms of absolute purity or absolute degradation but cannot reconcile this view. Holden even explicitly conceives of sex in disgusting terms. When he muses on sexual matters, he repeatedly describes such behavior as "crumby," but then admits that he himself is "pretty horny" and cannot control the sexual urges that can "spoil anything really good." Salinger further demonstrates Holden's Madonna/whore complex through the juxtaposition of Jane Gallagher and Faith Cavendish, who represent two opposing aspects of female sexuality. To Holden, Jane Gallagher is the prototypical Œgood' girl whom he remembers for playing checkers, while Faith Cavendish is nothing more than a prostitute.
Holden describes more about his family in this chapter. His sister Phoebe is the smartest little kid that he has ever met, and Holden himself is the only dumb one. Phoebe reminds Holden of Allie in physical appearance, but she is very emotional. She writes books about Hazle Weatherfield, a girl detective. Holden goes down to the Lavender Room, a nightclub in the hotel. The band there is putrid and the people are mostly old. When he attempts to order a drink, the waiter asks for identification, but since he does not have proof of his age, he begs the waiter to put rum in his Coke. Holden "gives the eye" to three women at another table, in particular a blonde one. He asks the blonde one to dance, and Holden judges her to be an excellent dancer, but a moron. Holden is offended when the woman, Bernice Krebs, asks his age and when he uses profanity in front of her. He tells these women, who are visiting from Seattle, that his name is Jim Steele. Since they keep mentioning how they saw Peter Lorre that day, Holden claims that he just saw Gary Cooper, who just left the Lavender Room. Holden thinks that the women are sad for wanting to go to the first show at Radio City Music Hall.
Salinger continues to establish Holden as a character with an entirely cynical view of others around him, particularly women and even including himself. His cynicism reaches nearly all those with whom he interacts, with a few notable exceptions. The most significant exception to emerge in this chapter is Phoebe, Holden's young sister. He lavishes nearly unconditional praise on Phoebe, detailing without any apparent sense of irony her intelligence and talents. He even appears charmed by her foibles, such as misspelling the name of her Œgirl detective.' Significantly, Holden compares her to Allie, one of the few other characters for whom Holden does not express contempt. These two characters, along with Jane Gallagher, represent for Holden a sense of innocence and childhood. Phoebe is still a child, Allie never had the change to mature, and Jane exists for Holden as an innocent girl playing checkers. Those characters who represent an adult sensibility serve primarily as targets for Holden's derision. The three women in the Lavender Room are significant examples of this. Holden finds Bernice's insistence on propriety laughable, and dismisses her and her companions' tourist activities. For Holden, their actions are trite and meaningless, yet while they have a purpose and a plan, however simplistic, Holden behaves randomly and without motivation. This chapter continues a pattern of pseudonyms that Holden adopts for himself. He treats his interaction with others as a performance, refusing to honestly depict himself to those around him. His honesty is entirely internalized; he admits his faults and lies in narration, but cannot do the same with other persons.
Upon leaving the Lavender Room, Holden begins to think of Jane Gallagher and worries that Stradlater seduced her. Holden met Jane when his mother became irritated that the Gallagher's Doberman pinscher relieved itself on their lawn. Several days later, he introduced himself to her, but it took some time before he could convince her that he didn't care what their dog did. Holden reminisces about Jane's smile, and admits that she is the only person whom he showed Allie's baseball mitt. The one time that he and Jane did anything sexual together was after she had a fight with Mr. Cudahy, her father-in-law. Holden suspected that he had tried to "get wise with" Jane. Holden decides to go to Ernie's, a nightclub in Greenwich village that D.B. used to frequent before he went to Hollywood.
Jane Gallagher continues to occupy a great deal of Holden's thoughts, and the stories about her reinforce other themes that emerge throughout The Catcher in the Rye. The story about Jane Gallagher reminds the reader that Allie's death has had a major effect on Holden. For Holden, information about Allie remains secretive and private, to be shared only with certain persons. This also gives more weight to the earlier chapter in which Holden writes a paper about the baseball mitt for Stradlater. This information, which he once considered so private, emerges as part of an essay written for others, indicating that Holden has been repressing certain emotions concerning his brothers death that may eventually emerge. The chapter also reinforces the recurrent suspicion that Holden has for adults. He believes that Jane Gallagher has been abused by her alcoholic stepfather, which bolsters Holden's idea that all authority figures are dangerous. This also elaborates part of the reason why Holden has such a jaded view of sexuality, for he may associate it with actions such as Mr. Cudahy's predatory behavior toward Jane.
In the cab to Ernie's, Holden chats with Horwitz, the cab driver. He asks what happens to the ducks in Central Park during the winter, but the two get into an argument when Horwitz thinks that Holden's questions are stupid. Ernie's is filled with prep school and college jerks, as Holden calls them. Holden notices a Joe Yale-looking guy with a beautiful girl; he is telling the girl how a guy in his dorm nearly committed suicide. A former girlfriend of Holden's brother, D.B., recognizes him. The girl, Lillian Simmons, asks about D.B. and introduces Holden to a Navy commander she is dating. Holden notices how she blocks the aisle in the place as she drones on about how handsome Holden has become. Rather than spend time with Lillian Simmons, Holden leaves.
Salinger continues to establish Holden's great dissatisfaction for those around him in this chapter. He continues to show a latent hostility toward everyone he meets, whether Lillian Simmons or Horwitz. In most of these encounters, Holden expresses a false sense of cordiality toward the people he encounters, yet describes only their most negative traits. As he expresses his own false exterior, he becomes fixated on phoniness in others, finding only cynical interpretations of their behavior, such as when he suspects that the "Joe Yale" guy is telling the girl about the suicide attempt while trying to feel her up. This hostility becomes more pronounced when he argues with Horwitz, who in a minor way challenges Holden for his foolish questions. Holden's anger seems most directed at those of his own particular social situation: he hates "prep school jerks" and "Joe Yale" guys, people who travel in similar circles. This emerges as a particular form of self-loathing. As a prep school student who is expected to attend an Ivy League college, Holden loathes those persons who are most like him.
Holden walks back to his hotel, although it is forty-one blocks away. He considers how he would confront a person who had stolen his gloves. Although he would not do so aggressively, he wishes that he could threaten the person who stole them. Holden finally concludes that he would yell at the thief but not have the courage to hit him. Holden reminisces about drinking with Raymond Goldfarb at Whooton. While back at the hotel, Maurice the elevator man asks Holden if he is interested in a little tail tonight. He offers a prostitute for five dollars. When she arrives, she does not believe that he is twenty-two, as he claims. Holden finally tells the prostitute, Sunny, that he just had an operation on his clavichord, as an excuse not to have sex. She is angry, but he still pays her, even though they argue over the price. He gives her five dollars, although she demands ten.
Holden emerges as a scared adolescent in this chapter, as he admits to himself his own cowardice. He believes that he is incapable of standing up to another Pencey student and fighting him in defense of his property, a claim that stands contradictory to his earlier fight with Stradlater. However, in that instance he fought Stradlater out of sheer impulse. When a decision requires any degree of forethought, Holden cannot commit to it. This inability to follow through on decisions is also demonstrated during Holden's encounter with the prostitute, which also serves as a reminder of his view of women as either purely virginal or irredeemable whores. The prostitute questions Holden's age, just as others have done during the course of the novel, again proving that however old Holden thinks that he appears, he presents himself as a child to the adult characters around him.
After the prostitute leaves, Holden sits in a chair and talks aloud to his brother Allie, which he often does whenever he is depressed. Finally he gets in bed and feels like praying, although he is "sort of an atheist." He claims that he likes Jesus, but the Disciples annoy him. Other than Jesus, the Biblical character he likes best is the lunatic who lived in the tombs and cut himself with stones. Holden tells that his parents disagree on religion and none of his siblings attend church. Maurice and Sunny knock on the door, demanding more money. Holden argues with Maurice and threatens to call the cops, but Maurice says that his parents would find out that he spent the night with a whore. As Holden starts to cry, Sunny takes the money from his wallet. Maurice punches him in the stomach before leaving. After Maurice is gone, Holden imagines that he had taken a bullet and would shoot Maurice in the stomach. Holden feels like committing suicide by jumping out the window, but he wouldn't want people looking at his gory body on the sidewalk.
Holden's behavior becomes increasingly self-destructive as this chapter progresses. Although he knows that Maurice and Sunny threaten him, he persists in arguing with them, even though they only dispute a five dollar charge and he believes that he is in serious danger. During this encounter Holden once again reveals himself to be a child, breaking down into tears as soon as Sunny and Maurice take the money from him, yet he displays more than extreme teenage disaffection. Holden fantasizes about murdering Maurice after he leaves, but gives this thought only passing consideration. Rather, the more important threat that Holden poses is to himself. His behavior toward Maurice and Sunny indicates that he is at some level unconcerned that they will hurt him, and he even seems to take some perverse pleasure from the pain Maurice inflicts, as he uses this as a chance for role-playing as a movie gangster. Salinger includes several instances indicating Holden's masochistic attitudes, such as his admission that his favorite character in the Bible is one who mutilates himself. These details accumulate throughout the chapter to Holden's final revelation that he is considering suicide. Although he finally dismisses the idea of jumping out the window because of the particular details of his death, this is a clear sign of Holden's despair. Salinger clearly foreshadows that Holden will engage in some suicidal action, possibly the reason why he is in psychiatric care as the book begins.
Holden calls Sally Hayes, who goes to the Mary A. Woodruff School. According to Holden, Sally seems quite intelligent because she knows a good deal about the theater and literature, but is actually quite stupid. He makes a date to meet Sally for a matinee, but she continues to chat with Holden on the phone despite his lack of interest. Holden tells that his father is a wealthy corporation attorney and his mother has not been healthy since Allie died. At Grand Central Station, where Holden checks in his bags after leaving the hotel, he sees two nuns with cheap suitcases. Holden reminisces about his roommate at Elkton Hills, Dick Slagle who had cheap suitcases and would complain about how everything was bourgeois. He chats with the nuns and gives them a donation. He wonders what nuns think about sex when he discusses Romeo and Juliet with them.
After the jarring events of the previous night, Holden returns to his normal state of affairs and preoccupations. He treats Sally Hayes in the same manner as he does the other persons he meets or mentions in the course of the novel: outwardly friendly and cordial while masking a core of contempt for their values and idiosyncrasies. Holden continues to elaborate on his family history, this time expanding the scope of Allie's death to include other family members. The death of his brother has had a significant impact on Holden, but has also had devastating consequences for the rest of his family. Holden also continues his preoccupation with sex when he meets the nuns at Grand Central and wonders how they react to "sexy" literature such as Romeo and Juliet. This encounter is indicative of Holden's earlier established Madonna/whore complex. He believes that nuns are so divorced from any sense of sexuality that they could not reasonably deal with works with erotic themes. However, the most significant revelation in this chapter concerns Holden's sense of class arrogance. Although he chastised Stradlater and others for their snobbery in previous chapters, Holden reveals himself to be an equal snob in this chapter, condescending to others because of their cheap suitcases. He believes that the common factor linking people is not intelligence or talent, but rather social class as defined by consumer taste. This further establishes Holden's sense of hypocrisy: although he decries the behavior of the class to which he belongs, he shares their behaviors and even accepts this value system as reasonable.
Before meeting Sally Hayes, Holden goes to find a record called "Little Shirley Beans" for Phoebe by Estelle Fletcher. As he walks through the city, he hears a poor kid playing with his parents, singing the song "If a body catch a body coming through the rye." Hearing the song makes Holden feel less depressed. Holden buys tickets for I Know My Love, a play starring the Lunts. He knew that Sally would enjoy it, for it was supposed to be very sophisticated. Holden goes to the Mall, where Phoebe usually plays when she is in the park, and sees a couple of kids playing there. He asks if any of them know Phoebe. They do, and claim that she is probably in the Museum of Natural History. He reminisces about going to the Museum when he was in grade school. He remembers how he would go there often with his class, but while the exhibits would be exactly the same, he would be different each time. Holden considers going to the museum to see Phoebe, but instead goes to the Biltmore for his date with Sally.
Although Holden can himself be a snob, he detests social pretension as manifested by the Lunts (Alfred Lunt and Joan Fontanne, considered the prominent couple in Broadway theater) and Laurence Olivier. Like so many other things, he dislikes both film and theater because they are inherently phony and, in the case of Broadway theater, validate others' notions of their own sophistication. However, Holden does not comprehend the inherent contradictions in his belief system. He rejects superficial markers of status and taste such as Broadway theater, yet in the previous chapter he used superficial markers of status (expensive suitcases) as a mark of validation.
Holden's primary interest shifts from Jane Gallagher to his sister, Phoebe. He even seems more preoccupied in seeing Phoebe than in his imminent date with Sally Hayes, for whom he has little more than contempt. The fascination that Holden has for Phoebe seems part of a longing for childhood. Holden resists change; he dislikes trips to the museum precisely because their static nature reminds him how much he changes at every visit. Holden seems to fear change and maturity, giving great sentimental weight to childish pleasures while fearing the qualities that mark adult life.
Holden meets Sally at the Biltmore, and when he sees her he immediately feels like marrying her, even though he doesn't particularly like her. After the play, when Sally keeps mentioning that she thinks she knows people she sees, Holden replies "Why don't you go on over and give him a big soul kiss, if you know him? He'll enjoy it." Finally, Sally does go to talk to the boy she knows, George from Andover. Holden notes how phony the conversation between Sally and George is. Holden and Sally go ice skating at Radio City, then to eat. Sally asks Holden if he is coming over to help her trim the Christmas tree. Holden asks her if she ever gets fed up. He tells her that he hates everything: taxicabs, living in New York, phony guys who call the Lunts angels. Sally tells him not to shout. He tells her that she is the only reason that he is in New York right now. If not for her, he would be in the woods, he claims. He complains about the cliques at boarding schools, and tells her that he's in lousy shape. He suggests that they borrow a car from a friend in Greenwich Village and drive up to New England where they can stay in a cabin camp until their money runs out. They could get married and live in the woods. Sally tells him that the idea is foolish, for they are both practically children who would starve to death. She tells him that they will have a lot of time to do those things after college and marriage, but he claims that there wouldn't be "oodles" of places to go, for it would be entirely different. He calls her a "royal pain in the ass," and she starts to cry. Holden feels somewhat guilty, and realizes that he doesn't even know where he got the idea about going to New England.
Holden's date with Sally Hayes reiterates several of the basic problems from which Holden suffers. He has intensely contradictory feelings for Sally, which even he realizes. Although he dislikes her, when he first sees her he feels that like marrying her. Holden shifts from seeming to loathe Sally to seeming to care about her, as when he proposes that they run off to New England and then calls her a pain in the ass once she refuses his offer. The confrontation between Holden and Sally in the restaurant demonstrates Holden's unreliability as a narrator. He does not realize that he is shouting at Sally Hayes through their conversation and denies it repeatedly to both the reader and to himself.
Holden's proposal is a mark of desperation, for he wishes to reject the entire society around him. He does this partially because he cannot coherently articulate what he so dislikes about the society in which he lives. Holden claims that he hates "everything," and locates this aversion in random things such as taxicabs and phonies who call the Lunts "angels." Holden even admits to himself that his actions have no logic, revealing that he does not know where he thought of escaping to New England. This continues a pattern of demonstrated behavior by Holden, while foreshadowing further desperately random actions. The New England idea also reinforces the idea that Holden stands at a difficult boundary between childhood and adulthood. Sally Hayes claims that they cannot run off together because they are still practically children, yet her rejection shows more sensible maturity than Holden's immature notions of running away from home and responsibility.
Holden once again considers giving Jane a call to invite her to go dancing. He remembers how she danced with Al Pike from Choate. Although Holden thought that he was "all muscles and no brains," Jane claimed that he had an inferiority complex and felt sorry for him. Holden thinks that girls divide guys into two types, no matter what their personality: a girl will justify bad behavior as part of an inferiority complex for those she likes, while claim those that she doesn't like are conceited. Holden calls Carl Luce, a friend from the Whooton School who goes to Columbia, and plans to meet him that night. He then goes to the movies and is annoyed when a woman beside him becomes too emotional. The movie is a war film, which makes Holden think about D.B.'s experience in the war. He hated the army, but had Holden read A Farewell to Arms, which in Holden's view celebrates soldiers. Holden thinks that if there is a war, he is glad that the atomic bomb has been invented, for he would volunteer to sit right on top of it.
Holden returns to reminiscing about Jane Gallagher in this chapter, once again revealing his unfortunately short attention span. Soon after proposing that he and Sally Hayes run off together, Holden has already forgotten Sally and moved on to other considerations. In this chapter Salinger allows Holden more coherence than usual. His cynical observations are not always misinterpretations; in some cases, he makes accurate statements about human foibles and failings. His diatribe concerning "inferiority complexes" is a particular case when Holden's suspicions have a particular coherence. He accurately finds that people have hypocritical standards of judgment for others and justify the behavior in those they like while condemning similar behavior in others. That Holden can make such observations is significant for the story, for it reinforces the idea that, although he is perpetually cynical, Holden still has the capability for intelligent and rational thought. This is a significant point, for it implies that external factors have promoted Holden's psychological difficulties and that he is not the perpetual failure that he perceives himself to be. Also, those moments when Holden shows himself to be rational make his outrageous statements more potent, such as when Holden ends his remembrance of D.B.'s war experience with the statement that he would want to sit on an atomic bomb during wartime.
Holden meets Carl Luce at the Wicker Bar. Carl Luce used to gossip about people who were "flits" (homosexuals) and would tell which actors were actually gay. Holden claims that Carl was a bit "flitty" himself. When Carl arrives, he asks Holden when he is going to grow up, and is not amused by Holden's jokes. Carl is annoyed that he is having a "typical Caulfield conversation" about sex. Carl admits that he is seeing an older woman in the Village who is a sculptress from China. Holden asks questions that are too personal about Carl's sex life with his girlfriend until Carl insists that he drop the subject. Carl reminds him that the last time he saw Holden he told him to see his father, a psychiatrist.
Holden returns to his obsession on sex in this chapter, a preoccupation that demonstrates great immaturity and a lack of propriety toward others. Holden appreciates sexuality in its most lurid forms, relishing Carl's gossip about which actors are closeted homosexuals, and can only conceive of Carl's relationship with the sculptress in terms of exotic sensuality. He even persists after Carl tells him how inappropriate his questions are, barely realizing that Carl is disgusted by Holden's behavior.
Salinger uses Holden's meeting with Carl Luce to give a more broad perspective on his behavior. Once again, this reinforces that others consider Holden to have some significant problems, but Salinger takes this viewpoint further in this chapter. Carl indicates that Holden's behavior when they meet at the Wicker Bar is typical behavior, and not the product of his altered psychological state. Holden has been suffering from his current problems since he went to Whooten with Carl Luce, and these problems have been significant; Carl even had suggested psychiatric treatment for Holden, a relatively significant recommendation in an era when therapy was highly stigmatized. Furthermore, this diagnosis comes from one of Holden's peers. This perspective on Holden's problems cannot be dismissed as easily as others, for Carl's recommendation is not the advice of the elderly Mr. Spencer or another authority figure who presumably could not understand Holden's problems.
Holden remains in the Wicker Bar getting drunk. He continues to pretend that he has been shot. Finally, he calls Sally, but her grandmother answers and asks why he is calling so late. Finally, Sally gets on the phone and realizes that Holden is drunk. In the restroom of the Wicker Bar, he talks to the "flitty-looking" guy, asking if he will see the "Valencia babe" who performs there, but he tells Holden to go home. Holden finally leaves. As he walks home, Holden drops Phoebe's record and nearly starts to cry. He goes to Central Park and sits down on a bench. He thinks that he will get pneumonia and imagines his funeral. He is reassured that his parents won't let Phoebe come to his funeral because he is too young. He thinks about what Phoebe would feel if he got pneumonia and died, and figures that he should sneak home and see her, in case he did die.
Salinger continues to foreshadow an eventual suicide attempt by Holden throughout this chapter. Holden once again pretends that he was shot, as he did after his confrontation with Maurice, but his thoughts shift to more serious mortal concerns. He imagines his funeral as if it is an impending event, yet is curiously ambivalent about the consequences. His only concern is not whether or not he will die, but how Phoebe will react to his death. Holden's decision to visit Phoebe at the end of the chapter shows that his actions are somewhat premeditated. He approaches this visit as a means to set his affairs in order, as if he knows that he will soon die.
Otherwise, Holden continues to display more of his typical inappropriate behavior, as when he calls Sally while drunk and tries to chat with the "flitty-looking" guy. Salinger shows how Holden has become more sensitive to occurrences in this chapter. He nearly breaks down into hysterics when he breaks Phoebe's record, and it is this event that provokes his meditations on death. This foreshadows later instances in which minor events will provoke more serious catastrophes for Holden.
Holden returns home, where he is very quiet as not to awake his parents. Phoebe is asleep in D.B.'s room. He sits down at D.B.'s desk and looks at Phoebe's stuff, such as her math book, where she has the name "Phoebe Weatherfield Caulfield" written on the first page (her middle name is actually Josephine). He wakes up Phoebe and hugs her. She tells about how she is playing Benedict Arnold in her school play. She tells about how she saw a movie called The Doctor, and how their parents are out for the night. Holden shows Phoebe the broken record, and admits that he got kicked out. She tells him that "Daddy's going to kill you," but Holden says that he is going away to a ranch in Colorado. Phoebe places a pillow over her head and refuses to talk to Holden.
Holden views his sister with a sense of wonder: he recounts with a sentimental appreciation each aspect of Phoebe's life, viewing her as a complete innocent. Of all the characters in The Catcher in the Rye, Phoebe is the only one that Holden treats with any degree of tenderness or respect. He listens intently to everything she says and does not react with the cynical observations that mark the rest of Holden's commentary. This is the most obvious manifestation of Holden's idealization of childhood. However, the child Phoebe does not share her brother's views. Where Holden is sentimental, Phoebe is realistic. She realizes how angry her father will be at Holden and refuses to listen to Holden when he tells how he will go to a ranch in Colorado. Like Carl Luce, Phoebe confronts Holden with his own immaturity and lack of direction, but this criticism goes farther. Even a nine year old child can realize that Holden needs to mature, yet Holden has not come to this revelation himself.
Phoebe tells Holden that she thinks his scheme to go out to Colorado is foolish, and asks why he failed out of yet another school. He claims that Pencey is full of phonies. He tells her about how everyone excluded Robert Ackley as a sign of how phony the students are. Holden admits that there were a couple of nice teachers, including Mr. Spencer, but then complains about the Veterans' Day ceremonies. Phoebe tells Holden that he doesn't like anything that happens. She asks Holden for one thing that he likes a lot. He thinks of two things. The first is the nuns at Grand Central. The second is a boy at Elkton Hills named James Castle, who had a fight with a conceited guy named Phil Stabile. He threatened James, who responded by jumping out the window, killing himself. However, he tells Phoebe that he likes Allie, and he likes talking to Phoebe right now. Holden tells Phoebe that he would like to be a catcher in the rye: he pictures a lot of children playing in a big field of rye around the edge of a cliff. Holden imagines that he would catch them if they started to go over the cliff. Holden decides to call up Mr. Antolini, a former teacher at Elkton Hills who now teaches English at NYU.
Of all of the characters in The Catcher in the Rye, Phoebe ranks with Carl Luce and Mr. Spencer as one of the most mature and perceptive. She realizes that Holden's major problem is his overwhelmingly negative attitude toward everything and everyone around him and confronts him on this fault. When Holden talks with Phoebe, he once again reveals his hypocrisy. He laments that everyone at Pencey excluded Robert Ackley, yet Holden himself loathed Ackley, considering him boorish and obnoxious. Significantly, Holden has difficulty finding an answer to the question of what he actually likes. When he does think of a response to that question, his answers are both questionable and disturbing. That Holden appreciates the suicide of James Castle indicates his own emotional state and gives greater credence to earlier foreshadowing that Holden himself will attempt to kill himself. Holden attaches some sense of nobility to death, which he additionally shows through his idealization of Allie. This also relates to Holden's sentimental feelings about childhood. His dream of becoming a "catcher in the rye" shows that Holden has an affection for childhood. He wishes to save these children from danger so that they may frolic in the fields; one can interpret this as Holden's wish to save the children from the difficulties of adulthood.
Holden responds to Phoebe's confrontation by preparing to leave the house. This continues a pattern for Holden: he escapes responsbility, whether leaving a club early when he sees someone he dislikes or running away from boarding school. When Holden faces something that he dislikes, he cannot confront it; instead, he chooses to leave for another random destination, whether New England or Colorado.
Holden tells that Mr. Antolini was his English teacher at Elkton Hills and was the person who carried James Castle to the infirmary. Holden and Phoebe dance to the radio, but their parents come home and Holden hides in the closet. When he believes that it is safe, Holden asks Phoebe for money and she gives him eight dollars and change. He starts to cry as he prepares to leave, which frightens Phoebe. He gives Phoebe his hunting hat and tells her that he will give her a call.
Salinger fills in some information in Holden's biography in this chapter, relating Mr. Antolini to the previous story about James Castle. This serves to show Holden's thought processes. Holden's choice of Mr. Antolini seems a more desperate move once he relates it to James Castle, as if that story was a momentary reminder of any person who can give Holden a place to stay that night. Holden's gift of the hunting hat is a significant event, for it is one of Holden's few meaningful possessions. He gives her the hunting hat as a sign that he may never see Phoebe again, whether because he has run away to Colorado or because of impending tragedy.
Mr. Antolini had married an older woman who shared similar intellectual interests. When he arrives at his apartment, Holden finds Mr. Antolini in a bathrobe and slippers, drinking a highball. Holden and Mr. Antolini discuss Pencey, and Holden tells how he failed Oral Expression (debate). He tells Holden how he had lunch with his father, who told him that Holden was cutting classes and generally unprepared. He warns Holden that he is riding for some kind of terrible fall. He says that it may be the kind where, at the age of thirty, he sits in some bar hating everyone who comes in looking as if he played football in college or hating people who use improper grammar. He tells Holden that the fall that he is riding for is a special and horrible kind, and that he can see Holden dying nobly for some highly unworthy cause. He gives Holden a quote from the psychoanalyst Wilhelm Stekel: "The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one." He finally tells Holden that once he gets past the things that annoy him, he will be able to find the kind of information that will be dear to his heart. Holden goes to sleep, and wakes up to find Mr. Antolini's hand on his head. He tells Holden that he is "simply sitting here, admiring " but Holden interrupts him, gets dressed and leaves, claiming that he has to get his bags from Grand Central Station and he will be back soon.
Mr. Antolini is the third consecutive person that Holden encounters who forces him to confront his difficulties. Like both Carl Luce and Phoebe, Mr. Antolini senses that Holden suffers from serious problems, and definitively tells him that he is headed for a fall. However, where Mr. Antolini departs from the previous two confrontations is that he grasps the seriousness of the situation. His observation that Holden will end up having contempt for nearly everyone he meets has been made in different forms by others, yet only Mr. Antolini senses the mortal seriousness of the situation. When he quotes Wilhelm Stekel, he implies that he expects Holden to commit suicide as a form of foolish martyrdom.
Mr. Antolini is perhaps the only adult in the story that Holden can trust and respect; Holden even does not derisively call him as Œold' as he does with other adults, instead referring to him by his proper title. However, like all other adults in the story, Holden feels that Mr. Antolini betrays his trust. When Holden awakens to find Mr. Antolini touching his head, he immediately concludes the worst, suspecting him of "flitty" behavior. However, Holden is a notoriously unreliable narrator, coming to Mr. Antolini's apartment inherently suspicious of all adults and perhaps still drunk from the evening's escapades. It seems unlikely that Mr. Antolini had any malicious intent, yet Holden suspects the worst. Once again Holden must escape from a situation to avoid any sort of difficult confrontation. Holden can now dismiss Mr. Antolini's advice to him, for he can now perceive this once-respected teacher as a predator.
When Holden gets outside, it is getting light out. He walks over to Lexington to take the subway to Grand Central, where he slept that night. He thinks about how Mr. Antolini will explain Holden's departure to his wife. Holden feels some regret that he didn't come back to the Antolini's apartment. Holden starts reading a magazine at Grand Central; when he reads an article about hormones, he begins to worry about hormones, and worries about cancer when he reads about cancer. As Holden walks down Fifth Avenue, he feels that he will not get to the other side of the street each time he comes to the end of a block. He feels that he would just go down. He makes believe that he is with Allie every time he reaches a curb. Holden decides that he will go away, never go home again and never go to another prep school. He thinks he will pretend to be a deaf-mute so that he won't have to deal with stupid conversations. Holden goes to Phoebe's school to find her and say goodbye. At the school he sees "fuck you" written on the wall, and becomes enraged as he tries to scratch it off. He writes her a note asking her to meet him near the Museum of Art so that he can return her money. While waiting for Phoebe at the Museum, Holden chats with two brothers who talk about mummies. He sees another "fuck you" written on the wall, and is convinced that someone will write that below the name on his tombstone. Holden, suffering from diarrhea, goes to the bathroom, and as he exits the bathroom he passes out. When he regains consciousness, he feels better. Phoebe arrives, wearing Holden's hunting hat and dragging Holden's old suitcase. She tells him that she wants to come with him. She begs, but he refuses and causes her to start crying. She throws the red hunting hat back at Holden and starts to walk away. She follows Holden to the zoo, but refuses to talk to him or get near him. He buys Phoebe a ticket for the carousel there, and watches her go around on it as "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" plays. Afterwards, she takes back the red hunting hat and goes back on the carousel. As it starts to rain, Holden cries while watching Phoebe.
Holden becomes increasingly paranoid and delusional throughout this chapter, the last one in which he recounts his tale. Throughout this chapter he operates under the assumption that he will not survive much longer, as when he is convinced that he will not get to the other side of the street. Holden's observations become increasingly random and disjointed, as when he obsesses over profane graffiti on the school. Holden's obsession with the profanity is notable, for it shows his distaste for anything that may corrupt the innocence of children. Holden wishes to shelter children from any adult experiences, revealing his own fear of maturity. Salinger bolsters this aspect of Holden's character by concluding the chapter with Holden watching Phoebe on the carousel.
Although Holden decides to leave New York after seeing Phoebe for once last time, he has no definitive plan of action. His behavior in this chapter demonstrates a tenuous grip on sanity. Holden wishes to reject society altogether, proposing extreme ideas such as pretending to be a deaf-mute, and appears barely in control of himself throughout the chapter. His physical health begins to mirror his emotional state; he suffers from illness that renders him less than lucid and even loses consciousness. By the conclusion of this chapter, Holden finds himself completely broken down both physically and emotionally, comforted only by the sight of Phoebe and her simple, childish pleasures.
Holden ends his story there. He refuses to tell what happened after he went home and how he got sick. He says that people are concerned about whether he will apply himself next year. He tells that D.B. visits often, and he often misses Stradlater, Ackley, and even Maurice. However, he advises not to tell anybody anything, because it is this that causes a person to start missing others.
Salinger leaves the actual events of Holden's presumed suicide attempt and hospitalization ambiguous; Holden only uses euphemisms such as "getting sick" to describe what has happened to him, but the implications are clear. Yet even more ambiguous than what happened to Holden is whether or not Holden will recover from his difficulties. Holden seems to harbor some sense of regret over what has happened; he claims that he even misses Stradlater and Ackley, and has used the telling of his story as a form of penitence for his behavior. Nevertheless, while looking back on his situation Holden still harbors some of the same suspicions and deep cynicism that afflicted him throughout the novel, as shown when he dismisses the question whether or not he will apply himself. Salinger ends the novel inconclusively: he gives no strong indication what Holden has learned from his difficulties, if he has learned at all, and allows for a strong possibility that Holden will continue his self-destructive and suicidal behavior.
Holden Caulfield, the narrator of The Catcher in the Rye, begins with the novel with an authoritative statement that he does not intend for the novel to serve as his life story. Currently in psychiatric care, this teenager recalls what happened to him last Christmas, the story which forms the narrative basis for the novel. At the beginning of his story, Holden is a student at Pencey Prep School, irresponsible and immature. Having been expelled for failing four out of his five classes, Holden goes to see Mr. Spencer, his History teacher, before he leaves Pencey. Mr. Spencer advises him that he must realize that "life is a game" and one should "play it according to the rules," but the sixteen year old, who has already left four private schools, dismisses much of what Spencer says.
Holden returns to his dormitory where he finds Robert Ackley, an obnoxious student with a terrible complexion who will not leave Holden alone, and Ward Stradlater, Holden's roommate. Stradlater is conceited and arrogant, a Œsecret slob' who asks Holden to write an English composition for him. Stradlater prepares for a date with Jane Gallagher, a friend of Holden from several summers before, while Holden goes with Ackley and Mal Brossard into New York City to see a movie. When he returns, Holden does write the composition for Stradlater about his brother's baseball mitt. Holden tells about how Allie died of leukemia several years before and how he broke all of the windows in his garage out of anger the night that he died.
When Stradlater returns, he becomes upset at Holden for writing what he thinks is a poor essay, so Holden responds by tearing up the composition. Holden asks about his date with Jane, and when Stradlater indicates that he might have had sex with her, Holden becomes enraged and tries to punch Stradlater, who quickly overpowers him and knocks him out. Soon after, Holden decides to leave Pencey that night and not to wait until Wednesday. He leaves Pencey to return to New York City, where he will stay in a hotel before actually going home.
On the train to New York City, Holden sits next to the mother of a Pencey student, Ernest Morrow. Claiming that his name is actually Rudolf Schmidt (the name of the Pencey janitor), Holden lies to Mrs. Morrow about how popular and well-respected her son is at Pencey, when he is actually loathed by the other boys, and even invites her to have a drink with him at the club car. When Holden reaches New York, he does not know whom he should call, considering his younger sister, Phoebe, as well as Jane Gallagher and another friend, Sally Hayes. He finally decides to stay at the Edmond Hotel. From his window he can see other guests at the hotel, including a transvestite and a couple who spit drinks back at each other, which makes him think about sex. He decides to call Faith Cavendish, a former burlesque stripper and reputed prostituted, but she rejects his advances. Instead, he goes down to the Lavender Room, a nightclub in the Hotel, where he dances with Bernice Krebs, a blonde woman from Seattle who is vacationing in New York with several friends. Holden thinks that these tourists seem pathetic because of their excitement over the various sights of the city.
After leaving the Lavender Room, Holden decides to go to Ernie's, a nightclub in Greenwich Village that his brother, D.B., would often frequent before he moved to Hollywood. However, he leaves almost immediately after he arrives, because he sees Lillian Simmons, one of D.B.'s former girlfriends, and wishes to avoid her because she is a Œphony.' He walks back to the hotel, where Maurice, the elevator man, offers him a prostitute for the night. When this prostitute arrives, Holden becomes too nervous and refuses her. She demands ten dollars, but Holden believes that he only owes five. Sunny (the prostitute) and Maurice soon return, however, and demand an extra five dollars. Holden argues with them, but Maurice threatens him while Sunny steals the money from him. Maurice punches him in the stomach before he goes. Holden then imagines shooting Maurice in the stomach and even jumping out of the window to commit suicide.
Holden calls Sally Hayes to meet her for a matinee and leaves his bags at a locker at Grand Central Station so that he will not have to go back to the hotel where he might face Maurice. At Grand Central he talks with two nuns about Romeo and Juliet and insists on giving them a donation. Before meeting Sally, Holden shops for a record for Phoebe and feels depressed when he hears children singing the song "If a body catch a body coming through the rye." He and Sally go to see a show starring the Lunts, which he knows Sally will enjoy because it seems sophisticated. When Holden sees Sally, he immediately wants to marry her, even though he does not particularly like Sally. After the show, Sally keeps mentioning that she sees a boy from Andover whom she knows, and Holden responds by telling her to go over and give the boy "a big soul kiss." When she talks to the boy, who goes to Andover, Holden becomes disgusted at how phony the conversation is. Holden and Sally go ice skating and then have lunch together. During lunch, Holden complains that he is fed up with everything around him and suggests that they run away together to New England, where they can live in a cabin in the woods. When she dismisses the idea, Holden calls her a "royal pain in the ass," causing her to cry.
After the date, Holden calls Carl Luce, a friend from the Whooton School who goes to Columbia and meets him at the Wicker Bar. Carl soon becomes annoyed at Holden for having a "typical Caulfield conversation" that is preoccupied with sex, and suggests that Holden see a psychiatrist. Holden remains at the Wicker Bar, where he gets drunk, then leaves to wander around Central Park. He nearly breaks down when he breaks Phoebe's record, and thinks he may die of pneumonia. Thinking that he may die soon, Holden returns home to see Phoebe, attempting to avoid his parents. He awakens her, but she soon becomes distressed when she hears that Holden has failed out of Pencey, and tells him that their father will kill him. He tells her that he might go out to a ranch in Colorado, but she dismisses his idea as foolish. When he complains about the phoniness of Pencey, Phoebe asks him if he actually likes anything. He claims that he likes Allie, and he thinks about how he likes the nuns at Grand Central and a boy at the Elkton Hills school who committed suicide. He tells Phoebe that he would like to be "a catcher in the rye," and he imagines himself standing at the edge of a cliff as children play around him. He would catch them before they ran too close to the cliff.
When his parents come home, Holden sneaks out to stay with Mr. Antolini, his former English teacher at Elkton Hills. Mr. Antolini tells Holden that he is headed for a serious fall and that he is the type who may die nobly for a highly unworthy cause. He quotes Wilhelm Stekel: "The mark of an immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one." Holden falls asleep on the couch, and when he awakens he finds Mr. Antolini with his hand on Holden's head. Holden immediately interprets this as a homosexual advance, and decides to leave. He tells Mr. Antolini that he has to get his bags from Grand Central Station and that he will return soon.
Holden spends the night at Grand Central Station, then sends a note to Phoebe at school, telling her to meet him for lunch. He becomes increasingly distraught and delusional, believing that he will die every time he crosses the street and falling unconscious after suffering from diarrhea. When he meets Phoebe, she tells him that she wants to go with him and becomes angry when he refuses. He buys Phoebe a ticket for the carousel at the nearby zoo, and as he watches her, he begins to cry.
Holden ends his story here. He refuses to tell what happened next and how he got sick, and tells how people are concerned about whether or not he will apply himself next year. He ends the story by telling that he misses Stradlater and Ackley and even Maurice
Holden Caulfield: The narrator of The Catcher in the Rye and its protagonist, Holden is the son of a wealthy New York family who moves from boarding school to boarding school as he is either expelled for failing classes or chooses to leave. Although he displays a number of typical teenage characteristics, but his adolescent foibles take a turn for the more disturbing throughout the novel, as he reveals himself to be self-destructive and dangerously cynical.
Phoebe Caulfield: Holden's nine year old younger sister, she is more mature and intelligent than her age implies and thus realizes how misguided her brother is behaving. Holden appreciates every minute detail of Phoebe's existence, such as her series of stories about "Hazle Weatherfield, Girl Detective" and treats Phoebe with more respect and kindness than he treats any other character in the story.
Mr. Antolini: Holden's former English teacher at Elkton Hills who now teaches at NYU, Mr. Antolini allows Holden to stay with him and his wife after Holden leaves his home. He tells Holden that he is headed for a fall and that he envisions Holden dying nobly for an unworthy cause. However, Holden awakes to find Mr. Antolini touching his head, which Holden interprets as a homosexual advance, and quickly leaves him.
Ward Stradlater: Vain, self-centered and arrogant but nevertheless a "secret slob," Stradlater is Holden's roommate at Pency Prep. He asks Holden to write an English essay for him, but then rejects the essay when it is not to his satisfaction. Holden gets into a fight with Stradlater after he suspects that Stradlater seduced Jane Gallagher.
Carl Luce: One of the most intelligent people that Holden knows, he was a student at Whooton when Holden attended, and then went to Columbia. He meets Holden at the Wicker Bar, where he chastises him for his immature behavior and recommends that he get psychiatric help.
Robert Ackley: A boorish, obnoxious student at Pencey, Ackley lives in a dorm room connected to the one where Holden lives. He is socially inept and physically disgusting; his complexion is horrible and Holden suspects that he never brushes his teeth.
Sally Hayes: Holden goes out on a date with this girl, whose pretentious mannerisms and affections Holden dislikes. Despite his contempt for her, Holden asks her to run away with him to New England, where they can live in a cabin in the wilderness together.
Mr. Spencer: Holden's history teacher at Pencey, he discusses Holden's expulsion with him before he leaves the school, and advises him to get some direction in his life.
Maurice: The elevator man at the Edmond Hotel who is also a pimp, Maurice assaults Holden after he refuses to pay a ten dollar fee to the prostitute he arranges for him.
Sunny: A prostitute whom Holden hires for the evening but then rejects, she demands a ten dollar payment when Holden believed that he was only required to pay five.
Bernice Krebs: A blonde woman from Seattle whom Holden meets at the Lavender Room, Holden dances with her but grows to dislike her because she displays too much enjoyment for being a tourist in New York City.
Faith Cavendish: A former burlesque stripper and supposed prostitute, Holden calls her late at night to set up a date, but she refuses him.
Lillian Simmons: One of D.B.'s old girlfriends, Holden meets her at Ernie's and promptly leaves to avoid her.
Lillian Antolini: The wife of Mr. Antolini, she is an older woman who married Mr. Antolini because they shared similar intellectual interests.
Horwitz: Holden argues with this cab driver on his way to Ernie's.
Allie Caulfield: Holden's younger brother, he died from leukemia. Holden often reminisces about Allie, particularly his baseball mitt, which Holden uses as the subject for Stradlater's essay.
Jane Gallagher: Stradlater's date for the evening, she was a close friend of Holden several summers before. Holden consistently reminisces about spending time with her. Jane is one of the few people whom Holden speaks about in entirely positive terms.
D.B. Caulfield: Holden's older brother, he is a war veteran who is currently a screenwriter in Hollywood.
Selma Thurmer: The daughter of the Pencey headmaster, she is a nice but unattractive girl, according to Holden, because she does not treat her father as a person to be admired.
Dr. Thurmer: The headmaster of Pencey, Dr. Thurmer gives Holden advice that "life is a game" when he expels Holden from the school.
Mr. Haas: Headmaster of Elkton Hills who, according to Holden, ignores "funny-looking" parents of Elkton students in favor of more elite parents.
Ossenburger: Wealthy undertaker and Pencey graduate who gives a speech to the Pencey student body in which he exalts his relationship with Jesus.
Edgar Marsalla: Holden tells how this Pencey student farted during the speech by Ossenburger.
Mr. Hartzell: Holden's English teacher at Pencey, he is the only teacher who did not fail Holden during the previous semester.
Mal Brossard: He accompanies Holden and Ackley into the city to see a movie the night before Holden leaves Pencey.
Ernest Morrow: According to Holden, Ernest is "the biggest bastard that ever went to Pencey." Holden meets his mother on the train to New York and lies about how popular and respected Ernest is at Pencey.
Rudolf Schmidt: The janitor at Pencey, Holden uses his name as a pseudonym when he talks to Mrs. Morrow on the train to New York.
Raymond Goldfarb: Holden remembers how he and this student at Elkton Hills got drunk together.
Dick Slagle: One of Holden's former roommates at Elkton Hills, Holden remembers him primarily because he had bad suitcases.
Harris Macklin: Elkton Hills; intelligent bore who whispers.
Al Pike: A former boyfriend of Jane Gallagher, Holden tells that he is an arrogant student at Choate who presumably suffers from an Œinferiority complex.'
James Castle: Holden tells a story about how this student at Elkton Hills committed suicide by jumping out of his window after an argument.
Phil Stabile: According to Holden, James Castle committed suicide after an argument with this student.
|Enviado por:||Matt matt|