The Catcher in the Rye
by J. D. Salinger
The Catcher in the Rye Madness Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"What'd you do?" I said. "Give her the time in Ed Banky's goddam car?" My voice was shaking something awful.
The next part I don't remember so hot. All I know is I got up from the bed, like I was going down to the can or something, and then I tried to sock him, with all my might, right smack in the toothbrush, so it would split his goddam throat open. […] It probably would've hurt him a lot, but I did it with my right hand, and I can't make a good fist with that hand. On account of that injury I told you about." (6.32-36)
It’s a little anti-social to flip out on a guy like Holden does to Stradlater, just because you suspect him of sleeping with a girl you like—but it’s not unheard of, or anything. The troubling part is that Holden doesn’t “remember so hot.”
"Boy, do I hate it," I said. "But it isn't just that. It's everything. I hate living in New York and all. Taxicabs, and Madison avenue buses, with the drivers and all always yelling at you to get out at the rear door, and being introduced to phony guys that call the Lunts angels, and going up and down in elevators when you just want to go outside, and guys fitting your pants all the time at Brooks, and people always–"
"Don't shout, please," old Sally said. Which was very funny, because I wasn't even shouting."
"Why not? Why the hell not?"
"Stop screaming at me, please," she said. Which was crap, because I wasn't even screaming at her." (17.41-55)
Again we get subtlety. Twice Sally asks Holden to stop shouting—he insists he's not, but, you know, we don't quite believe him. The whole shouting/mumbling thing he’s apparently doing here sounds pretty cray-cray to us. (We’d cross the street, is what we’re saying.)
"I thought it was 'If a body catch a body,'" I said. "Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around – nobody big, I mean – except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I'd do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be. I know it's crazy." (22.55)
A few times in The Catcher in the Rye, Holden says things like "I'm a madman" or "I'm crazy" or "It's a crazy idea." At first, it sounds like joking self-deprecation… but by this point in the novel, we’re starting to agree with him.