The Catcher in the Rye
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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.
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 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.
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.
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 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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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