The Catcher in the Rye
by J. D. Salinger
The Catcher in the Rye Holden Caulfield Quotes
"She's a dancer," I said. "Ballet and all. She used to practice about two hours every day, right in the middle of the hottest weather and all. She was worried that it might make her legs lousy—all thick and all. I used to play checkers with her all the time."
"You used to play what with her all the time?"
"Checkers, for Chrissake!"
"Yeah. She wouldn't move any of her kings. What she'd do, when she'd get a king, she wouldn't move it. She'd just leave it in the back row. She'd get them all lined up in the back row. Then she'd never use them. She just liked the way they looked when they were all in the back row." Stradlater didn't say anything. That kind of stuff doesn't interest most people. (4.44-48)
Holden appreciates Jane as a person, whereas Stradlater seems to view her as a sexual object for him to impress (he doesn't care about the stuff Holden's telling him, and is distracted by his own appearance). No wonder Holden is uncomfortable at the thought of Stradlater and Jane together.
"Her mother belonged to the same club we did," I said. "I used to caddy once in a while, just to make some dough. I caddy'd for her mother a couple of times. She went around in about a hundred and seventy, for nine holes."
Stradlater wasn't hardly listening. He was combing his gorgeous locks.
"I oughta go down and at least say hello to her," I said.
"I will, in a minute." He started parting his hair all over again. It took him about an hour to comb his hair.
"Jane Gallagher. Jesus ... I couldn't get her off my mind. I really couldn't. "I oughta go down and say hello to her, at least."
"Why the hell don'tcha, instead of keep saying it?" Stradlater said.
I walked over to the window, but you couldn't see out of it, it was so steamy from all the heat in the can.. "I'm not in the mood right now," I said. I wasn't, either. You have to be in the mood for those things. […] I walked around the can for a little while. I didn't have anything else to do. (4.49-57)
Here begins a desire-inaction pattern with regards to Jane that will continue for most of The Catcher in the Rye. Holden says he ought to go say hello, but can't get himself to follow through and actually do it. We see this again and again as he merely contemplates calling Jane. Admittedly, Holden is a coward, but his passivity here is a real indication of his genuine feelings for this girl.
"Her mother and father were divorced. Her mother was married again to some booze hound," I said. "Skinny guy with hairy legs. I remember him. He wore shorts all the time. Jane said he was supposed to be a playwright or some goddam thing, but all I ever saw him do was booze all the time and listen to every single goddam mystery program on the radio. And run around the goddam house, naked. With Jane around, and all."
"Yeah?" Stradlater said. That really interested him. About the booze hound running around the house naked, with Jane around. Stradlater was a very sexy bastard.
"She had a lousy childhood. I'm not kidding."
That didn't interest Stradlater, though. Only very sexy stuff interested him. (4.50-53)
We wonder if Jane and her "lousy childhood" serves as some sort of connection between her and Holden. After all, he later reveals that he, too, has had some "perverty" stuff happen to him "about twenty times since [he] was a kid."