The Catcher in the Rye
The Catcher in the Rye Chapter 20 Quotes
How we cite the quotes:
Anyway, I kept worrying that I was getting pneumonia, with all those hunks of ice in my hair, and that I was going to die. I felt sorry as hell for my mother and father. Especially my mother, because she still isn't over my brother Allie yet. I kept picturing her not knowing what to do with all my suits and athletic equipment and all. The only good thing, I knew she wouldn't let old Phoebe come to my goddam funeral because she was only a little kid. That was the only good part. Then I thought about the whole bunch of them sticking me in a goddam cemetery and all, with my name on this tombstone and all. Surrounded by dead guys. Boy, when you're dead, they really fix you up. I hope to hell when I do die somebody has sense enough to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you're dead? Nobody. (20.41)
Holden is unable to romanticize the notion of death. To him, it can't be smoothed over with a lovely ceremony and a bunch of flowers. He sees it in its dark practicality – flowers might make some people feel better, but at the end of the day, the dead are still dead.
When the weather's nice, my parents go out quite frequently and stick a bunch of flowers on old Allie's grave (20.42)
Holden doesn’t actually make the point, but he doesn’t have to: his parents only care about Allie as long as it doesn’t inconvenience them. Visiting the grave when it’s raining? No way.
When I finally got down off the radiator and went out to the hat-check room, I was crying and all. I don't know why, but I was. I guess it was because I was feeling so damn depressed and lonesome. Then, when I went out to the checkroom […] the hat-check girl was very nice. […] I sort of tried to make a date with her. […] She said she was old enough to be my mother and all. (20.37)
Holden keeps tying together the words "depressed" and "lonesome," suggesting that being lonely makes him depressed. Notice how, once again, he tries to reach out to anyone around him, including the hat-check girl, as he earlier did with the cab drivers? But it’s a catch-22, because his depression ends up pushing people away. How … depressing.