The Catcher in the Rye, Chapters 16 – 21

Happy Holidays, everyone! I hope that the holiday season is as happy as ever.

In contrast to your bright holiday cheer, here are the yay/nay/gray thoughts of today…

YAY:

While walking around New York City, Holden comes across a poor family that had a 6-year-old boy in chapter 16: “The kid was swell… He was making out like he was walking a very straight line, the way kids do, and the whole time he kept singing and humming. I got up closer so I could hear what he was singing. He was singing that song, ‘If a body catch a body coming through the rye.’ He had a pretty little voice, too. He was just singing for the hell of it, you could tell” (115).

Even though cars are zooming by, the parents don’t pay too much attention on their child, who continues to sing his little heart out. Holden thinks, “It made me feel better. It made me feel not so depressed any more” (115).

I don’t know for sure why this gets Holden out of the depressed-dug-in-hole he has made for himself. But maybe he recognizes childhood innocence. Perhaps he likes the idea that the parents are close by to step in if need be, but the child is able to have a sense of freedom and liberation. Maybe Holden sees a little of himself in the kid. Perhaps Holden connects with the song (*hint*: the title seems to be somehow connected with this song…).

Or maybe Holden is merely having a bi-polar mood swing, but it could be something more than just that.

NAY:

The beginning of chapter 17 is just so sad. While waiting for his date with Sally, Holden is sitting around, chilling, and watching the other girls waiting for their dates to show up. Holden explains, “In a way, it was sort of depressing, too, because you kept wondering what the hell would happen to all of them. When they got out of school and college, I mean. You figured most of them would probably marry dopey guys” (123).

Some of the crimes these dopey guys would commit included talking about their cars, being childish or sore, playing stupid games, and being mean. Holden also criticized “Guys that never read books. Guys that are very boring” (123).

First, the girls Holden are watching don’t necessarily have to marry. They could get careers or travel or do countless other things than just marrying “dopey guys.”

Second, it seems like Holden is kinda jumping the gun.

Third, are there really not that many great guys out in the world?

Fourth, I find it interesting that Holden thinks “Not-Reading” and right after that “Very-Boring” are both considered negative characteristics to have in a potential husband.

Fifth, although Holden does read, he does seem to act childish and/or sore for most of this entire novel, and he can be quite mean. Holden doesn’t even appear to be living up to the standard he sets. Holden, by his own definition, is a “dopey guy.”

(Sorry… I seem to be just numbering random thoughts that jump into my brain after reading this page.)

GRAY:

In chapter 21, Holden F-I -N-A-L-L-Y goes home!!! But this isn’t the best reunion ever.

His parents are off at some party, but Holden doesn’t really want to see them. He sits and watches his sister, Phoebe, sleep for a little while, which seems creepy, and then wakes her up to talk with her.

Phoebe seems genuinely excited and thrilled to see her older brother. Holden gives her the record he worked so hard to find but then broke into pieces when he dropped in on the ground after getting super drunk, but Phoebe loves the thought anyways: “She took them right out of my hand and then she put them in the drawer of the night table. She kills me” (164).

But Phoebe knows that something is up. She keeps asking him why he is home early. She knows that he was kicked out of another school. She puts a pillow over her head, and “She wouldn’t come out, though. You can’t even reason with her sometimes” (166). Holden already has enough communication problems with his parents and other brother. It’s too bad that the one sibling that seems to get along with him now refuses to look or talk to him.

This scene has so many mixed emotions. I hope that Holden can work out his problems with his family and actually talk with them.

Some More {silly} Questions:

Why is Holden so obsessed with talking to Luce in Chapter 19? Is Holden just lonely? Holden claims that Luce liked to talk about sex a lot, but when Holden kept bringing it up with Luce while having a drink with the guy, Luce did not seem interested and says things like, “Same old Caulfield. When are you going to grow up?” (144) and attempts to change the subject. Holden seems to think that Luce has had some homosexual relationships and seems fixated on that subject.

I’d forgotten to include the MLA Citation for the last few posts, but it was listed on the bottom of my first post about The Catcher in the Rye.  🙂

Salinger, J. D. The Catcher in the Rye. New York City: Bantam Book, 1951. Print

*P.S.: I can’t figure out how to work italics on here. Sorry!

** P. S. S.: I do NOT own this photo. I give my thanks to Google images. 😉

I do like the shorts, though.  Or maybe the skirt. Don’t really know…  🙂

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The Catcher in the Rye, Chapters 16 – 21

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