The Catcher in the Rye
by J. D. Salinger
The Catcher in the Rye Chapter 8 Quotes
How we cite the quotes:
All of a sudden, this lady got on at Trenton and sat down next to me. Practically the whole car was empty, because it was pretty late and all, but she sat down next to me, instead of an empty seat, because she had this big bag with her and I was sitting in the front seat. She stuck the bag right out in the middle of the aisle, where the conductor and everybody could trip over it. She had these orchids on, like she'd just been to a big party or something. She was around forty or forty-five, I guess, but she was very good looking. Women kill me. They really do. I don't mean I'm oversexed or anything like that – although I am quite sexy. I just like them, I mean. They're always leaving their goddam bags out in the middle of the aisle. (8.4)
It's interesting to see what Holden identifies as sexy, feminine attributes—like leaving bags in out in the middle of the aisle. His observations can actually be quite incisive, lending some weight to the argument that, actually, Holden is quite beyond his years (at least in some ways).
"Would you care for a cigarette?" I asked her.
She looked all around. "I don't believe this is a smoker, Rudolf," she said. Rudolf. That killed me.
"That's all right. We can smoke till they start screaming at us," I said. She took a cigarette off me, and I gave her a light.
She looked nice, smoking. She inhaled and all, but she didn't wolf the smoke down, the way most women around her age do. She had a lot of charm. She had quite a lot of sex appeal, too, if you really want to know. (8.24-27)
For being a sexually insecure sixteen-year-old, Holden has guts. We might need to think twice before writing him off as a socially inept kid.
"Oh, how lovely! Perhaps you know my son, then, Ernest Morrow? He goes to Pencey."
"Yes, I do. He's in my class."
Her son was doubtless the biggest bastard that ever went to Pencey, in the whole crumby history of the school. He was always going down the corridor, after he'd had a shower, snapping his soggy old wet towel at people's asses. That's exactly the kind of a guy he was.
"Oh, how nice!" the lady said. But not corny. She was just nice and all. "I must tell Ernest we met," she said. "May I ask your name, dear?"
"Rudolf Schmidt," I told her. I didn't feel like giving her my whole life history. Rudolf Schmidt was the name of the janitor of our dorm. (8.9-13)
There’s literally no reason for Holden to lie here: he’s not in trouble (exactly), he’s not running away from school—he just doesn’t “feel” like telling the truth. So, why isn’t this phony?