The Catcher in the Rye
by J. D. Salinger
The Catcher in the Rye Chapter 11 Quotes
How we cite the quotes:
Anyway, I was telling you about that afternoon Jane and I came close to necking. It was raining like hell and we were out on her porch, and all of a sudden this booze hound her mother was married to came out on the porch and asked Jane if there were any cigarettes in the house. […] He had a lousy personality. Anyway, old Jane wouldn't answer him when he asked her if she knew where there was any cigarettes. So the guy asked her again, but she still wouldn't answer him. She didn't even look up from the game. Finally the guy went inside the house. When he did, I asked Jane what the hell was going on. She wouldn't even answer me, then. She made out like she was concentrating on her next move in the game and all. Then all of a sudden, this tear plopped down on the checkerboard. […] I don't know why, but it bothered hell out of me. So what I did was, I went over and made her move over on the glider so that I could sit down next to her – I practically sat down in her lap, as a matter of fact. Then she really started to cry, and the next thing I knew, I was kissing her all over—anywhere—her eyes, her nose, her forehead, her eyebrows and all, her ears—her whole face except her mouth and all. She sort of wouldn't let me get to her mouth. Anyway, it was the closest we ever got to necking. […] I asked her […] if Mr. Cudahy – that was the booze hound's name – had ever tried to get wise with her. She was pretty young, but she had this terrific figure, and I wouldn't've put it past that Cudahy bastard. She said no, though. I never did find out what the hell was the matter. Some girls you practically never find out what's the matter. (11.5)
The only remotely sexual action we see between Jane and Holden isn't actually that sexual—it's more about his comforting her than anything else. Meanwhile, it sounds like the two of them have similar histories of (maybe?) sexual abuse.
I held hands with her all the time, for instance. That doesn't sound like much, I realize, but she was terrific to hold hands with. […] We'd get into a goddam movie or something, and right away we'd start holding hands, and we wouldn't quit till the movie was over. And without changing the position or making a big deal out of it. You never even worried, with Jane, whether your hand was sweaty or not. All you knew was, you were happy. You really were. (11.6)
Holden doesn’t care about sex—he cares about companionship and emotion. And for some reason, he doesn’t think he can have both with Jane.
The other thing I just thought of. One time, in this movie, Jane did something that just about knocked me out. The newsreel was on or something, and all of a sudden I felt this hand on the back of my neck, and it was Jane's. It was a funny thing to do. I mean she was quite young and all, and most girls if you see them putting their hand on the back of somebody's neck, they're around twenty-five or thirty and usually they're doing it to their husband or their little kid – I do it to my kid sister Phoebe once in a while, for instance. But if a girl's quite young and all and she does it, it's so pretty it just about kills you. (11.6)
Jane's action toward Holden—putting her hand on the back of his neck—is similar to his kissing her everywhere but her lips. They both take a more emotion-based attitude toward each other. It’s like they go out of their way to avoid being sexual. Hm. It is starting to sound a lot like they both have a history of abuse, isn’t it?