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The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye

by J. D. Salinger

The Two Nuns Timeline and Summary

  • Holden first meets the two nuns while he's having breakfast on Sunday morning, right after he's made his date with Sally Hayes.
  • He lends a hand with their inexpensive suitcases, which they seem not to know what to do with.
  • Holden notices that the nuns have a straw collecting basket. He asks one of the nuns – who isn't attractive but has a kind face – if he can made a donation.
  • He's depressed about the fact that they're only eating toast and coffee while he's having bacon and eggs.
  • The nuns thank Holden profusely for his ten dollar donation, so much so that he has to change the subject.
  • The nuns reveal that they're from Chicago and in New York to teach at a school uptown. One of them teaches English and the other American Government.
  • The English-teaching nun asks Holden about what he's read in school, and they strike up a conversation about Romeo and Juliet.
  • This disturbs Holden, as he has a hard time with the fact that a nun likes such a sexy play. But he does express his frustration at the fact that Mercutio died when nothing was his fault.
  • The nuns refuse to let Holden pay for their bill when he offers. They thank him for the conversation.
  • When he's leaving, Holden accidentally blows smoke in their face and apologizes for it "like a madman."
  • Once they've parted ways, Holden thinks about how sad it is that nuns never get to go to swanky lunches.
  • Later, when Phoebe asks Holden to name one thing he likes, all he can think about is the nuns and their collection basket (before he delves into the James Castle digression).
  • Towards the end of the novel, Holden looks for the two nuns while he's walking down Fifth Avenue, thinking he might see them somewhere with their collecting basket.
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