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

The Catcher in the Rye Chapter 2 Quotes Page 1

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Quote 1

"Boy!" I said. I also say "Boy!" quite a lot. Partly because I have a lousy vocabulary and partly because I act quite young for my age sometimes. I was sixteen then, and I'm seventeen now, and sometimes I act like I'm about thirteen. It's really ironical, because I'm six foot two and a half and I have gray hair. I really do. The one side of my head – the right side – is full of millions of gray hairs. I've had them ever since I was a kid. And yet I still act sometimes like I was only about twelve. Everybody says that, especially my father. It's partly true, too, but it isn't all true. People always think something's all true. I don't give a damn, except that I get bored sometimes when people tell me to act my age. Sometimes I act a lot older than I am – I really do – but people never notice it. People never notice anything. (2.22)

Is it just us, or does “I act quite young for my age sometimes” sound a lot like Holden’s just repeating something adults have said to him? Notice that one side of his head is all gray—as thought part of him is still a kid, and part of him is all adult. Sounds about right to us.

Quote 2

The minute I went in, I was sort of sorry I'd come. He was reading The Atlantic Monthly, and there were pills and medicine all over the place, and everything smelled like Vicks Nose Drops. It was pretty depressing. I'm not too crazy about sick people, anyway. What made it even more depressing, old Spencer had on this very sad, ratty old bathrobe that he was probably born in or something. I don't much like to see old guys in their pajamas and bathrobes anyway. (2.3)

Holden is depressed by physical illness (obviously), but he’s not in such great physical condition himself by the end of the novel. Just what do you think he’s wearing at the place he’s been sent to “rest up”?

Quote 3

After I shut the door and started back to the living room, he yelled something at me, but I couldn't exactly hear him. I'm pretty sure he yelled "Good luck!" at me. I hope not. I hope to hell not. I'd never yell "Good luck!" at anybody. It sounds terrible, when you think about it. (2.78)

From Holden’s perspective, literally anything can sound depressing: like wishing someone "good luck"—which, if you think about it, could just imply that the person needs it.

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