Study Guide

The Catcher in the Rye Chapter 18

By J. D. Salinger

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Chapter 18

  • Dear Shmoopers: READ THIS CHAPTER. It's only seven paragraphs, and it's pretty amazing. Just read it. It's basically the key to the whole book.
  • Holden leaves the skating rink, has lunch, and thinks some more about giving Jane a call.
  • He thinks about taking her dancing. He saw her once, dancing with another "moron" named Al Pike who used to wear tight bathing suits and jump off the high dive to show off his muscles.
  • Later, once they were friends, he asked why she'd ever hang around with a guy like that. Jane said it's because he had an inferiority complex and she felt sorry for him.
  • In Holden's opinion, that doesn't stop him from being a jerk.
  • He says if a girl likes a guy, she'll say he has an inferiority complex, no matter how much of a jerk he is, and if she doesn't like him, she'll say he's conceited, no matter how nice a person he is.
  • Women, right?
  • Ponderings aside, he gives Jane a call and hangs up when no one answers.
  • He does need some company for the evening, though, so he looks through his address book. Unfortunately, there are only three numbers in it: Jane, a former teacher named Mr. Antolini, and his father's office.
  • So he ends up giving Carl Luce a call, a guy he used to go to school with at Whooton before he got kicked out.
  • Carl, who goes to Columbia University, agrees (over the phone) to meet Holden for a drink, even though, Holden informs us, he (Holden) once called the guy a "fat-assed phony."
  • With nothing else to do until he needs to meet Carl at ten, Holden goes to Radio City and watches part of their Christmas extravaganza.
  • He hates it. Of course.
  • He can't enjoy the roller-skating comedian, because all he does is envision the guy practicing. He can't see anything religious or pretty in the angels singing carols, since all the actors playing the angels are really just thinking about going to smoke a cigarette afterward.
  • He went with Sally last year. She thought they were beautiful, but Holden said Jesus probably would've puked to see it. According to Holden, if Jesus were going to like anyone, it would be the guy playing the kettle drums. Holden and Allie used to watch him all the time when they were little.
  • After the show, the movie comes on.
  • It's all about an English guy that loses his memory after the war, and falls in love even though he was already engaged. Holden's conclusion? "Don't see it if you don't want to puke all over yourself."
  • The worst part is that he is sitting next to a woman who cries at all the phony bits, which makes her look like a kind person, except she's ignoring her little boy with her who is super bored and has to go to the bathroom.
  • After the movie, Holden heads out to the Wicker Bar where he's supposed to meet Carl.
  • Then he starts thinking about war, since that's sort of what got the movie story rolling.
  • His brother D.B. was in the war—landed on D-Day and all—and he hated the Army, not the war.
  • When D.B. used to come home on leave, he would just lie on his bed the whole time. He said if you ever really had to shoot someone, you wouldn't know which direction to point your gun, that the Army is full of "bastards" just like the Nazis.
  • Holden would hate the part where he'd have to look at the guy's neck in front of him (which reminds us of how he can't sock someone in the jaw, because he doesn't like looking at their face).
  • Holden didn't like A Farewell to Arms, which D.B. loved and made him read. He did, however, love The Great Gatsby, which D.B. said he was just too young to appreciate.
  • Either way, Holden's glad they've got the atomic bomb invented. This way he can just sit right on top of it.

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