Study Guide

The Catcher in the Rye Chapter 12

By J. D. Salinger

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Chapter 12

  • Holden gets into a "vomity" cab with a driver named Horwitz. He asks his question about the ducks and where they go in the winter, but Horwitz doesn't know.
  • He does know that the fish stay right where they are. Their pores open up, he insists, and they take in nutrients from all the seaweed and stuff around them, even while they're frozen right there in place.
  • Uh, okay. We're not fish expects, but that sounds (ahem) fishy to us. (And to these guys.)
  • As Holden exits the cab (after Horwitz turns him down for a drink), Horwitz insists that the fish are taken care of, because Mother Nature wouldn't leave them to fend for themselves. He's quite worked up about the whole thing.
  • At Ernie's, everyone is intently listening to the piano. The crowd is just a bunch of morons, the kind who laugh at movies that aren't funny. You know.
  • Ernie even bows, which Holden finds disgusting. Question: is there anything that this kid doesn't find disgusting?
  • Apparently, scotch and soda: no matter how old you are, Holden says, you can always drink at Ernie's.
  • Holden listens in on some conversation. On one side, a guy is giving the girl a play-by-play of the last football game he was in. She has to listen, says Holden, because she's not attractive. (Apparently, pretty girls never have to listen to boring conversation.)
  • On his other side is a very preppy, good-looking couple. To be exact, they are a "Joe Yale-looking-guy" and a "terrific looking girl with him."
  • (By the way, Holden informs us, he wouldn't go to Yale or Princeton even if he were dying, which makes absolutely no sense, because how would going to an Ivy League school save you from dying?)
  • He's feeling her up under the table while talking about this guy in his dorm that committed suicide, which … shows poor taste. To say the least. Not to mention, she doesn’t seem too into it.
  • As a better alternative to watching this display, Holden sends a message via the waiter asking Ernie to join him for a drink.
  • Just then a girl with a terrific body named Lillian Simmons greets Holden by name and comes over to this table.
  • She used to date Holden's brother D.B., and now she's with a naval officer.
  • Lillian asks about D.B. and introduces her date. Too bad about that terrific body, because nobody really likes this girl, even the guy who's dating her.
  • Holden resents having to say, "Glad you have met you" to the naval guy who he isn't remotely glad to have met.
  • Then he lies (of course) and says he has to leave to meet someone.
  • Gee, it's too bad the Internet hasn't been invented yet. We get the feeling Holden would be a lot happier trolling Internet message boards than wandering around Manhattan hating everyone.

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