The Catcher in the Rye
by J. D. Salinger
The Catcher in the Rye Mortality Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Anyway, I'm sort of glad they've got the atomic bomb invented. If there's ever another war, I'm going to sit right the hell on top of it. I'll volunteer for it, I swear to God I will. (18.7)
Talk about a death wish. And look—they even named a trope for it!
I've lived in New York all my life, and I know Central Park like the back of my hand, because I used to roller-skate there all the time and ride my bike when I was a kid, but I had the most terrific trouble finding that lagoon that night. I knew right where it was – it was right near Central Park South and all – but I still couldn't find it. […] Then, finally, I found it. What it was, it was partly frozen and partly not frozen. But I didn't see any ducks around. I walked all around the whole damn lake – I damn near fell in once, in fact – but I didn't see a single duck. I thought maybe if there were any around, they might be asleep or something near the edge of the water, near the grass and all. That's how I nearly fell in. But I couldn't find any. (20.40)
Holden is worried that the ducks have vanished – much like his concern, as we see later, that he himself will disappear.
Finally I sat down on this bench, where it wasn't so goddam dark. Boy, I was still shivering like a bastard, and the back of my hair, even though I had my hunting hat on, was sort of full of little hunks of ice. That worried me. I thought probably I'd get pneumonia and die. I started picturing millions of jerks coming to my funeral and all. My grandfather from Detroit, that keeps calling out the numbers of the streets when you ride on a goddam bus with him, and my aunts – I have about fifty aunts – and all my lousy cousins. What a mob'd be there. They all came when Allie died, the whole goddam stupid bunch of them. I have this one stupid aunt with halitosis that kept saying how peaceful he looked lying there, D.B. told me. I wasn't there. I was still in the hospital. I had to go to the hospital and all after I hurt my hand. (20.42)
Holden’s fantasy quickly turns away from the typical "You'd be sorry if I died" self-centered thought to think about Allie. No matter how many times a person says it is peaceful, death is anything but peaceful—or it shouldn’t be. Compare the aunt's use of this word (peaceful) to Holden's confinement to a hospital bed after his own violent reaction to Allie's death.