The Catcher in the Rye
by J. D. Salinger
The Catcher in the Rye Chapter 13 Quotes
How we cite the quotes:
Anyway, while I was putting on another clean shirt, I sort of figured this was my big chance, in a way. I figured if she was a prostitute and all, I could get in some practice on her, in case I ever get married or anything. I worry about that stuff sometimes. […] I wouldn't mind being pretty good at that stuff. Half the time, if you really want to know the truth, when I'm horsing around with a girl, I have a helluva lot of trouble just finding what I'm looking for, for God's sake, if you know what I mean. Take this girl that I just missed having sexual intercourse with, that I told you about. It took me about an hour to just get her goddam brassiere off. By the time I did get it off, she was about ready to spit in my eye. (13.25)
If sex is all there is between two people—like Holden suspects it might be—then it had better be good. That's a lot for a sixteen-year-old to have to deal with.
Anyway, I kept walking around the room, waiting for this prostitute to show up. I kept hoping she'd be good-looking. I didn't care too much, though. I sort of just wanted to get it over with. (13.26)
At this point, Holden doesn't see sex as something intimate or even just fun—it's a rite of passage he has to "get […] over with." Gee, that really puts a person in the mood.
She came in and took her coat off right away and sort of chucked it on the bed. She had on a green dress underneath. Then she sort of sat down sideways on the chair that went with the desk in the room and started jiggling her foot up and down. She crossed her legs and started jiggling this one foot up and down. She was very nervous, for a prostitute. She really was. I think it was because she was young as hell. She was around my age. […] She had a tiny little wheeny-whiny voice. You could hardly hear her. She never said thank you, either, when you offered her something. She just didn't know any better.
I took her dress over to the closet and hung it up for her. It was funny. It made me feel sort of sad when I hung it up. I thought of her going in a store and buying it, and nobody in the store knowing she was a prostitute and all. The salesman probably just thought she was a regular girl when she bought it. It made me feel sad as hell—I don't know why exactly. (13.26-53)
Right away, we know this isn’t going to go well—because Holden sees Sunny as a person, not as a sexual object. He thinks about how she's nervous, too, tries to guess her age, notices her voice, speculates about her personal situation and even how she might view herself (like how she might feel ashamed about being a prostitute). Holden sees this as a liability—but we see it as him most (only?) redeeming feature.