Study Guide

The Catcher in the Rye Chapter 16

By J. D. Salinger

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Chapter 16

  • Holden keeps thinking about the collection basket as he heads off to meet Sally for their date.
  • He pictures the different people he knows having to hold a collection basket. Sally's mother would only do it if everyone had to kiss her butt to make a contribution, and then she'd go to a swanky lunch. But the nuns never get to go to a swanky lunch.
  • Holden heads to Broadway to try look for a record for his sister Phoebe, "Little Shirley Beans." It's about a kid who lost her two front teeth and is too embarrassed to leave her house.
  • On the way, he sees a sort of poor-looking family come out of church and walk in front of him. The mother and father aren't really paying attention to their six-year-old kid, who's singing, "If a body catch a body coming through the rye."
  • This makes Holden feel a wee bit less depressed, for some reason.
  • He makes it to a crowded Broadway street by about noon, irritated by the fact that everyone so obviously wants to go the shows.
  • Apparently, it's one thing to go to a show if there's nothing else to do, but actually wanting to go is nuts.
  • Holden makes it to a record store and pays five dollars for an apparently rare copy of "Little Shirley Beans."
  • He then makes it into a phone booth to call Jane, but hangs up when her mother answers the phone.
  • Instead, he buys orchestra seats for a show called "I Know My Love," which he figures Sally will go nuts over because it has the Lunts (famous actors) in it.
  • This leads Holden into a digression on show actors. Most of them suck, and if they don't, then they know it, and that makes them bad. Case in point, Sir Laurence Olivier playing Hamlet. Holden says Hamlet is supposed to be a sad, screwed-up guy, not a commanding general-type like Olivier played it.
  • Well, he's quite the critic.
  • Holden heads over to the Mall (as in an outside area without cars, not as in an indoor shopping mall) hoping to run into Phoebe in the park.
  • Instead, he runs into a little kid about his sister's age and asks her if she knows Phoebe Caulfield.
  • She does, but isn't sure where Phoebe is. Holden helps her tighten her skates. She's a nice kid, and he asks her if she wants to have hot chocolate, but she has to go meet her friend.
  • (Also, and maybe this is just us, she's a little creeped out by this whole situation.)
  • After being rejected, Holden mopes over to the Museum of Natural History. He remembers going himself on Saturdays when he was a kid.
  • His favorite room was "the Indian Room," a long, quiet hallway you walk through with Native American displays on either side. He liked it because it never changed.
  • And with that memory, Holden puts his red hunting hat on. It's not like he's going to see anyone he knows, anyway.
  • Certain things, he muses, ought to be able to stay just as they are, without having to change.
  • He passes two unbalanced kids on a seesaw and tries to even out their weight by putting his hand on the side of the skinnier kid. He can tell they don't want him around, though, so he leaves.
  • When he finally gets to the museum, it doesn't appeal to him anymore.
  • How shocking! Said no one.

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