The Catcher in the Rye
by J. D. Salinger
The Catcher in the Rye Chapter 1 Quotes
How we cite the quotes:
Anyway, it was the Saturday of the football game. […] I remember around three o'clock that afternoon I was standing way the hell up on top of Thomsen Hill. […] You could see the whole field from there, and you could see the two teams bashing each other all over the place. […] You could hear them all yelling. (1.3)
Holden clues us in right away: while everyone else is off at the game, he's isolated, aloof, and watching people instead of connecting with them. What a party animal, right?
What I was really hanging around for, I was trying to feel some kind of good-by. I mean I've left schools and places I didn't even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don't care if it's a sad good-by or a bad good-by, but when I leave a place I like to know I'm leaving it. If you don't, you feel even worse. (1.8)
Hello, paradox: Holden wants to make connections with people (or, in this case, with places), but to do so means to make an emotional investment that will probably end up depressing him. Here, however, he seems to decide that he would rather feel sad about leaving a place than feel sad about the fact that he doesn't get to feel connected enough to feel sad. Make sense? Now compare this to the last paragraph of the novel, where Holden says not to tell stories, as you then miss the people in them. Does this mean he's changed his mind?
I'll just tell you about this madman stuff that happened to me around last Christmas just before I got pretty run-down and had to come out here and take it easy. I mean, that's all I told D.B. about, and he's my brother and all. He's in Hollywood. That isn't too far from this crumby place. (1.1)
Since Holden (or Salinger, depending on how you want to look at it) isn't entirely forthcoming, we have to look carefully at these hints about where Holden is now (when he's seventeen) telling us the story about where he was then (when he was sixteen, around Christmas). We guess that he's in California "resting up." Wonder exactly what kind of break-down/episode happened?