The Catcher in the Rye
by J. D. Salinger
The Catcher in the Rye Holden Caulfield Quotes
Then all of a sudden, she saw some jerk she knew on the other side of the lobby. Some guy in one of those very dark gray flannel suits and one of those checkered vests. Strictly Ivy League. Big deal. […] Finally, though, the jerk noticed her and came over and said hello. You should've seen the way they said hello. You'd have thought they hadn't seen each other in twenty years. […] The funny part was, they probably met each other just once, at some phony party. (17.14)
Speaking of parties, Holden sounds like he’d be really fun at one. Not. What we want to know is—why does he care so much whether this dumb guy is being phony?
I'll just tell you about this madman stuff that happened to me around last Christmas just before I got pretty run-down and had to come out here and take it easy. I mean, that's all I told D.B. about, and he's my brother and all. He's in Hollywood. That isn't too far from this crumby place. (1.1)
Since Holden (or Salinger, depending on how you want to look at it) isn't entirely forthcoming, we have to look carefully at these hints about where Holden is now (when he's seventeen) telling us the story about where he was then (when he was sixteen, around Christmas). We guess that he's in California "resting up." Wonder exactly what kind of break-down/episode happened?
I ran all the way to the main gate, and then I waited a second till I got my breath. I have no wind, if you want to know the truth. I'm quite a heavy smoker, for one thing—that is, I used to be. They made me cut it out. Another thing, I grew six and a half inches last year. That's also how I practically got t.b. and came out here for all these goddam checkups and stuff. I'm pretty healthy though. (1.10)
Check out those words "they" and "here." It's ambiguous, but we have an idea that "they" are some sort of professionals taking care of Holden, and "here" is some sort of institution or place that gives "checkups and stuff." Again, more hints that something went wrong with Holden. Clever, clever.