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The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye

by J. D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye Holden Caulfield Quotes Page 8

Quote #22

I didn't know what the hell to talk about while I was waiting for the elevator, and he kept standing there, so I said, "I'm gonna start reading some good books. I really am." I mean you had to say something. It was very embarrassing.

"You grab your bags and scoot right on back here again. I'll leave the door unlatched."

"Thanks a lot," I said. "G'by!" The elevator was finally there. I got in and went down. Boy, I was shaking like a madman. I was sweating, too. When something perverty like that happens, I start sweating like a bastard. That kind of stuff's happened to me about twenty times since I was a kid. I can't stand it. (24.98-100)

Look at how Holden acts even after he feels violated and nervous. He still makes conversation, still tries to somewhat smooth over the conversation. Despite everyone calling him "anti-social" all the time, he's a rather conscientious guy. On the other hand, it could be that he's just super embarrassed and talking to make himself feel better. Take your pick.

Quote #23

What I was really hanging around for, I was trying to feel some kind of good-by. I mean I've left schools and places I didn't even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don't care if it's a sad good-by or a bad good-by, but when I leave a place I like to know I'm leaving it. If you don't, you feel even worse. (1.8)

Hello, paradox: Holden wants to make connections with people (or, in this case, with places), but to do so means to make an emotional investment that will probably end up depressing him. Here, however, he seems to decide that he would rather feel sad about leaving a place than feel sad about the fact that he doesn't get to feel connected enough to feel sad. Make sense? Now compare this to the last paragraph of the novel, where Holden says not to tell stories, as you then miss the people in them. Does this mean he's changed his mind?

Quote #24

The minute I went in, I was sort of sorry I'd come. He was reading The Atlantic Monthly, and there were pills and medicine all over the place, and everything smelled like Vicks Nose Drops. It was pretty depressing. I'm not too crazy about sick people, anyway. What made it even more depressing, old Spencer had on this very sad, ratty old bathrobe that he was probably born in or something. I don't much like to see old guys in their pajamas and bathrobes anyway. (2.3)

Holden is depressed by physical illness (obviously), but he’s not in such great physical condition himself by the end of the novel. Just what do you think he’s wearing at the place he’s been sent to “rest up”?

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