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Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye

Characters

Quote #1

She had a terrifically nice smile. She really did. Most people have hardly any smile at all, or a lousy one. "Ernest's father and I sometimes worry about him," she said. "We sometimes feel he's not a terribly good mixer."

"How do you mean?"

"Well. He's a very sensitive boy. He's really never been a terribly good mixer with other boys. Perhaps he takes things a little more seriously than he should at his age."

Sensitive. That killed me. That guy Morrow was about as sensitive as a goddam toilet seat. (8.9-23)

Holden knows Ernest is a jerk, but he indulges Mrs. Morrow anyway. She’s deceiving herself; he’s letting her deceive herself; and he’s, well, deceiving her. And he’s doing it just to be nice. Important lesson: sometimes you have to lie to be nice. Is this part of why Holden seems to hate everything so much—because either you’re an honest jerk or a lying nice boy?

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