The Catcher in the Rye
by J. D. Salinger
The Catcher in the Rye Chapter 9 Quotes
How we cite the quotes:
After he left, I looked out the window for a while, with my coat on and all. I didn't have anything else to do. You'd be surprised what was going on on the other side of the hotel. They didn't even bother to pull their shades down. I saw one guy, a gray-haired, very distinguished-looking guy with only his shorts on, do something you wouldn't believe me if I told you. First he put his suitcase on the bed. Then he took out all these women's clothes, and put them on. Real women's clothes – silk stockings, high-heeled shoes, brassiere, and one of those corsets with the straps hanging down and all. Then he put on this very tight black evening dress. I swear to God. Then he started walking up and down the room, taking these very small steps, the way a woman does, and smoking a cigarette and looking at himself in the mirror. He was all alone, too. Unless somebody was in the bathroom—I couldn't see that much. Then, in the window almost right over his, I saw a man and a woman squirting water out of their mouths at each other. It probably was highballs, not water, but I couldn't see what they had in their glasses. Anyway, first he'd take a swallow and squirt it all over her, then she did it to him – they took turns, for God's sake. You should've seen them. They were in hysterics the whole time, like it was the funniest thing that ever happened. I'm not kidding, the hotel was lousy with perverts. I was probably the only normal bastard in the whole place – and that isn't saying much. I damn near sent a telegram to old Stradlater telling him to take the first train to New York. He'd have been the king of the hotel. (9.14)
Shmoop doesn’t like to judge, but we do see why Holden would think of a cross-dressing gentleman as a “pervert.” But a couple having a good time with some water? A little odd, but not exactly extraordinary. To Holden, everything “sexy” just ends up seeming perverted.
The trouble was, that kind of junk is sort of fascinating to watch, even if you don't want it to be. For instance, that girl that was getting water squirted all over her face, she was pretty good-looking. I mean that's my big trouble. In my mind, I'm probably the biggest sex maniac you ever saw. Sometimes I can think of very crumby stuff I wouldn't mind doing if the opportunity came up. I can even see how it might be quite a lot of fun, in a crumby way, and if you were both sort of drunk and all, to get a girl and squirt water or something all over each other's face. The thing is, though, I don't like the idea. It stinks, if you analyze it. I think if you don't really like a girl, you shouldn't horse around with her at all, and if you do like her, then you're supposed to like her face, and if you like her face, you ought to be careful about doing crumby stuff to it, like squirting water all over it. It's really too bad that so much crumby stuff is a lot of fun sometimes. Girls aren't too much help, either, when you start trying not to get too crumby, when you start trying not to spoil anything really good. I knew this one girl, a couple of years ago, that was even crumbier than I was. Boy, was she crumby! We had a lot of fun, though, for a while, in a crumby way. Sex is something I really don't understand too hot. You never know where the hell you are. I keep making up these sex rules for myself, and then I break them right away. Last year I made a rule that I was going to quit horsing around with girls that, deep down, gave me a pain in the ass. I broke it, though, the same week I made it – the same night, as a matter of fact. I spent the whole night necking with a terrible phony named Anne Louise Sherman. Sex is something I just don't understand. I swear to God I don't. (9.14-15)
Bust out those highlighters, Shmooperinos: Holden says if you like a girl, you shouldn't do "crumby" stuff to her. Crumby = dirty in the sex way, not in the mud-puddle way. To him, what's "sexy" is "dirty" and therefore degrading to the woman. So, if you like a woman as a person, not as a sex object, how could you ever get dirty with her?
"Where ya stopping at? Perhaps we could get together for cocktails tomorrow."
"I can't make it tomorrow," I said. "Tonight's the only time I can make it." What a dope I was. I shouldn't've said that.
"Oh. Well, I'm awfully sorry."
"I'll say hello to Eddie for you."
"Willya do that? I hope you enjoy your stay in New York. It's a grand place."
"I know it is. Thanks. Good night," I said. Then I hung up.
Boy, I really fouled that up. I should've at least made it for cocktails or something. (9.52-58)
Faith Cavendish is a girl who “doesn’t mind doing it,” and it sounds like she wouldn’t mind doing it with Holden—but he backs down, just like always. Every time he actually has a chance to have sex, he … abstains. (Again, remind us why this book is banned?)