Study Guide

The Catcher in the Rye Chapter 15

By J. D. Salinger

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Chapter 15

  • Holden wakes up around 10, smokes some cigarettes, and thinks about Jane. Basically, nothing has changed in the past 8-10 hours.
  • He does end up giving Sally Hayes a call. He says she's not too smart, but he got tricked into thinking so for a while since she knew a lot about theater and literature and all that stuff. Also, he spent a lot of time making out with her, which can obscure the facts.
  • Once has her on the phone, they set a date to see a matinee. Then she tells him all about these boys who are just crazy over her, which is a less than tactful thing to do.
  • After he hangs up, Holden looks out his window at the "perverts" across the way, but they all have their shades pulled down.
  • It's only Sunday and he knows he can't go home for a few more days. So, he gets in a cab and heads for Grand Central Station.
  • He counts his money and realizes he's spent a ton since he left school, which is nothing new, but still makes him feel bad. We also get some insight here into Holden's family—it seems his father does in fact make a lot of money, as a corporation (corporate) lawyer.
  • After dropping his bags off, Holden has a light breakfast at a counter. Turns out, the reason he's so skinny is that he never eats enough.
  • Good to know? We guess?
  • Holden lends a hand to two nuns nearby who don't seem to know what to do with their cheap suitcases.
  • Which leads Holden into a digression about … inexpensive suitcases.
  • At Elkton Hills (one of his many previous boarding schools), Holden roomed with a guy named Dick Slagle who had very inexpensive suitcases. Shameful, right?
  • Well, Dick thought so. He was so embarrassed about it that he used to keep them under the bed instead of on the luggage rack.
  • Of course, this was depressing to Holden, who himself had very expensive suitcases. So he put his under the bed, too.
  • The funny thing is, Dick kept taking Holden's suitcases out and putting them back on the rack so that people would think they were his.
  • But—he also kept insulting them, calling them "bourgeois."
  • Sheesh. You really can't please some people.
  • Obviously, both of them ended up getting new roommates.
  • Wise words from Holden: it's hard to be roommates with people if your suitcases are much better than theirs.
  • Back to the nuns: one of them is carrying one of those Salvation Army-type baskets for other people to donate money.
  • He asks if they're taking up a collection, as he would make a contribution. He's mostly depressed that they're eating toast and coffee while he's eating bacon and eggs.
  • He finally gives them ten dollars, though they keep asking if he's sure he can afford to do that.
  • The nuns, in addition to being nuns, are schoolteachers from Chicago who have just come to New York.
  • One of the nuns teaches English, and Holden wonders how she feels about the sexy bits of books she has to teach. You know, since she's a nun.
  • So they start talking about English (Holden's best subject), and we get a nice list of the books he's read: Beowulf, Lord Randal My Son, Return of the Native, Romeo and Juliet, etc.
  • Some of Shmoop's favorites!
  • The nun gets all excited about Romeo and Juliet, which Holden thinks isn't exactly nun-appropriate. But he indulges in a discussion of it anyway.
  • What bothered him most in the play wasn't when Romeo and Juliet died; it was when Mercutio died. (Us too!)
  • Holden tries to pay the nuns' bill, but the women won't let him.
  • In retrospect, the conversation was actually a little stressful, since he was afraid they were going to ask him if he was Catholic.
  • His father was Catholic at one point, he tells us.
  • He remembers a kid named Louis Shaney who was cool to talk to until Louis tried to subtly find out if he was Catholic.
  • Just like the suitcases.
  • After accidentally blowing smoke in the nuns' face as they say goodbye, Holden apologizes, is embarrassed, and generally feels depressed by the whole thing, especially the money part.

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