The Catcher in the Rye
The Catcher in the Rye
by J. D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye Chapter 16 Quotes Page 1

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Quote 1

The best thing, though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was. Nobody'd move. You could go there a hundred thousand times, and that Eskimo would still be just finished catching those two fish, the birds would still be on their way south, the deers would still be drinking out of that water hole […]. Nobody'd be different. The only thing that would be different would be you. Not that you'd be so much older or anything. It wouldn't be that exactly. You'd just be different, that's all. You'd have an overcoat on this time. Or that kid that was your partner in line last time had got scarlet fever and you'd have a new partner. Or you'd have a substitute taking the class, instead of Miss Aigletinger. Or you'd heard your mother and father having a terrific fight in the bathroom. Or you'd just passed by one of those puddles in the street with gasoline rainbows in them. I mean you'd be different in some way – I can't explain what I mean. And even if I could, I'm not sure I'd feel like it. (16.24)

Holden likes the Natural History museum because, no matter what else changed in his life, it was always the same: it was like a little freeze-frame picture of his own childhood, a safe spot he could always come back to.

Or, as Owen Wilson says in Dazed and Confused: the great thing about high school girls is that you get older, and they just stay the same age.

Quote 2

Certain things they should stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone. I know that's impossible, but it's too bad anyway. (16.25)

The question here is, which things should stay the way they are? Dioramas at the museum? Sure, as long as we don’t learn new information that makes them outdated. Kids? Well, it starts to get a little creepy when you decide to put them in glass cases, is all we’re saying. A little Snow-White-and-the-Seven-Dwarves.

Quote 3

"She's prob'ly in the museum, then. We went last Saturday," the kid said.

"Which museum?" I asked her.

She shrugged her shoulders, sort of. "I don't know," she said. "The museum."

"I know, but the one where the pictures are, or the one where the Indians are?"

"The one where the Indians."

"Thanks a lot." (16.16-21)

Holden might have difficulty communicating with almost everyone, but he sure knows how to talk to a kid. He understands immediately that “Indians” are what she’ll remember.

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