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The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye


J. D. Salinger

 Table of Contents

The Catcher in the Rye Chapter 20 Quotes

How we cite the quotes:

Holden Caulfield >

Quote 1

Lawyers are all right, I guess – but it doesn't appeal to me," I said. "I mean they're all right if they go around saving innocent guys' lives all the time, and like that, but you don't do that kind of stuff if you're a lawyer. All you do is make a lot of dough and play golf and play bridge and buy cars and drink Martinis and look like a hot-shot. And besides. Even if you did go around saving guys' lives and all, how would you know if you did it because you really wanted to save guys' lives, or because you did it because what you really wanted to do was be a terrific lawyer, with everybody slapping you on the back and congratulating you in court when the goddam trial was over, the reporters and everybody, the way it is in the dirty movies? How would you know you weren't being a phony? The trouble is, you wouldn't. (20.46)

Oh, yeah, all the lawyers who go around saving innocent guys’ lives all the time—as though there really are that many innocent guys to save, even if they wanted it. Thinking that there are enough innocent people to save is just part of Holden’s own innocence.


Quote 2

Finally I sat down on this bench, where it wasn't so goddam dark. Boy, I was still shivering like a bastard, and the back of my hair, even though I had my hunting hat on, was sort of full of little hunks of ice. That worried me. I thought probably I'd get pneumonia and die. I started picturing millions of jerks coming to my funeral and all. My grandfather from Detroit, that keeps calling out the numbers of the streets when you ride on a goddam bus with him, and my aunts – I have about fifty aunts – and all my lousy cousins. What a mob'd be there. They all came when Allie died, the whole goddam stupid bunch of them. I have this one stupid aunt with halitosis that kept saying how peaceful he looked lying there, D.B. told me. I wasn't there. I was still in the hospital. I had to go to the hospital and all after I hurt my hand. (20.42)

Holden’s fantasy quickly turns away from the typical "You'd be sorry if I died" self-centered thought to think about Allie. No matter how many times a person says it is peaceful, death is anything but peaceful—or it shouldn’t be. Compare the aunt's use of this word (peaceful) to Holden's confinement to a hospital bed after his own violent reaction to Allie's death.


Quote 3

I've lived in New York all my life, and I know Central Park like the back of my hand, because I used to roller-skate there all the time and ride my bike when I was a kid, but I had the most terrific trouble finding that lagoon that night. I knew right where it was – it was right near Central Park South and all – but I still couldn't find it. […] Then, finally, I found it. What it was, it was partly frozen and partly not frozen. But I didn't see any ducks around. I walked all around the whole damn lake – I damn near fell in once, in fact – but I didn't see a single duck. I thought maybe if there were any around, they might be asleep or something near the edge of the water, near the grass and all. That's how I nearly fell in. But I couldn't find any. (20.40)

Holden is worried that the ducks have vanished – much like his concern, as we see later, that he himself will disappear.

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