Study Guide

The Catcher in the Rye Chapter 9

By J. D. Salinger

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Chapter 9

  • Holden gets off at Penn Station (in New York City) and decides to give someone a buzz on the payphone. (LOL payphones! No wonder teenagers can't relate to this book anymore.)
  • But…who to call? His brother D.B.? His kid sister Phoebe? Jane Gallagher's mother? This girl Sally Hayes he used to go around with?
  • Sally recently wrote Holden a "long, phony letter," the gist of which was an invitation to help trim her Christmas tree.
  • Uh, we think that might be a euphemism.
  • Unfortunately, Sally's mother thinks Holden is "wild" and would have a conniption if he called her house, not to mention she'd call Holden's mother and blab about how he's in New York four days early, which means he got kicked out of school, which his parents don't know yet.
  • So he ends up not calling anyone. Of course.
  • Instead, Holden gets a cab and accidentally gives his home address. About halfway there, he remembers he can't go home until Wednesday.
  • Then he asks the driver about the ducks in the lagoon near Central Park: he wants to know where they go in the winter when the water freezes over.
  • The driver obviously has no idea, so Holden decides to act just as corny as this guy. He has the driver take him to the Edmont Hotel, and then invites him for a drink.
  • The driver turns him down. We're shocked.

  • He takes his hunting cap off before going into the lobby, so as to not look like a "screwball," even though he later found out there were "screwballs all over the place."
  • Holden feels bad for the 65-year-old man who has the "crumby" job of carrying his suitcases up the room.
  • Well, it's better than being a whiny high school dropout, HOLDEN.
  • On the other side of the hotel, he sees distinguished-looking gentleman putting on women's fine clothing and prancing about in high-heels. Um, what?
  • In the room above that, he sees a man and a woman squirting water out of their mouths at each other.
  • Um, what?
  • Stradlater, Holden thinks, would have been the King of a sexed-up, pervy place like this.
  • Which gets us right into a little digression on sex. The woman across the hotel is really attractive. He could go for some water-squirting himself, come to think of it.
  • Except the idea stinks. Holden says if you really care about a girl, you shouldn't horse around with her at all in such a crumby way. (Crumby = dirty, from what we can tell.)
  • He used to know a "crumby" girl himself, so crumby that he made a rule not to horse around with any girls anymore, which lasted about ten minutes.
  • Either way, he "doesn't understand" sex.
  • Uh, we're getting the idea that Holden has some real issues with sex.
  • Holden contemplates calling Jane at her school. It's late, so he has a whole story planned out to tell whomever picks up the phone (it involves an uncle and a dead woman).
  • Holden's "felling pretty horny" by now, so he gets his wallet and digs out the address of a girl who isn't "exactly a whore or anything," but always good for a fun time. He got said address from a guy he knows that goes to Princeton.
  • So he calls up this girl, Faith Cavendish, tells her he's a friend of this Princeton guy Eddie, tries to make his voice sound deeper than it is, and asks her out for a cocktail.
  • She's all, "Hmm, how about tomorrow?" and Holden is all, "Now or never!" so the upshot of the whole deal is that Holden gets nothing. Shocking.

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