"If you really want to hear about it," begins the narration. You can tell right away you're going to get a lot of attitude from this first-person narration, so you'd better be ready to deal with it if you're going to read The Catcher in the Rye.
The first thing you hear from this young guy is that his parents wouldn't want him to tell you about his personal life. Doesn't matter. He's going to tell us all about "this madman stuff" that happened last Christmas.
He says he's got a brother named D.B. who's out in Hollywood "being a prostitute," which we know means "writing scripts," since D.B. used to write short stories (such as "The Secret Goldfish," a tale about a boy who wouldn't let anyone else look at his pet goldfish).
Anyway, the narrator hates "phonies," which is what his brother is now since he made "a lot of dough" and bought a Jaguar.
Our narrator also hates the movies. He hates a lot of things, so get used to it.
Back to this story of "last Christmas." The narrator says he'll start off with day he left Pencey Prep. Pencey is an annoying, snobby East-coast Prep school in Pennsylvania. Our narrator is disgusted by it and its phoniness.
The day in question is a Saturday, and Pencey is hosting a big-deal football game against rival Saxon Hall. The narrator doesn't feel like watching the game, so he hangs out up on a hill and watches the crowd from a distance.
He digresses about Selma Thurmer, the headmaster's daughter and the only girl around the place. Her father is a "bastard," the narrator says, but she's decent because she knows as much. She also wears "falsies" (fake breasts).
So why isn't our narrator watching the football game? It seems he is 1) the manager of the fencing team, and 2) the guy who, earlier this Saturday, left all the fencing equipment on the subway. So no match + a mob of angry fencers = necessary isolation.
Additionally, the narrator wants to go say good-bye to his history teacher, Mr. Spencer, before he (the narrator) leaves the school.
And why is he leaving the school? Mostly because… he got kicked out. Because he failed all his classes, they "gave [him] the ax," which it seems they do quite frequently.
So now he's hanging around on the hill (and freezing because some "crook" at school stole his camel hair coat) and trying to feel some sort of good-bye for the place. He says, "When I leave a place, I like to know I'm leaving it. If you don't, you feel even worse."
In order to get the emotion of a proper good-bye, the narrator reminisces about tossing around a football with two friends of his one evening on campus. They played even after it was too dark to see.
This is just the sort of things he needs. A round of nostalgia later, he heads off toward Mr. Spencer's, but slowly, as running proves difficult for this "heavy smoker."
We get another hint as to where the narrator is in the present time (as he's telling us this story about leaving Pencey last Christmas): he reveals that last year he "grew six and a half inches" and "practically got t.b." and "came out here for all these goddamn checkups and stuff." We think he is in some sort of institution or hospital.
He gets to the Spencers' and, as he is greeted by Mrs. Spencer, we learn our narrator's name: Holden.