"Old Selma Thurmer - she was the headmaster's daughter - showed up at the games quite often, but she wasn't exactly the type that drove you mad with desire. She was a pretty nice girl, though. I sat next to her once in the bus from Agerstown and we sort of struck up a conversation. I liked her. She had a big nose and her nails were all bitten down and bleedy-looking and she had on those damn falsies that point all over the place, but you felt sort of sorry for her. What I liked about her, she didn't give you a lot of horse manure about what a great guy her father was. She probably knew what a phony slob he was." (3)
2) bemoaning lack of girls on Pencey's campus, recalls headmaster's daughter
3) H. likes women and connects with them somewhat better than he connects with men (maybe has roots in relationships with his mother and father)
concerned with physical attractiveness and very attentive to detail in people's appearance, but not entirely shallow--also cares about people being honest and genuine
"I don't care if it's a sad good-by or a bad good-by, but when I'm leaving a place I like to know I'm leaving it. If you don't, you feel even worse" (4).
2) Standing on hill at Pencey, looking down on the football game
3) Despite claims of hating Pencey, H. still desperately wants to connect with other people and with places in his life.
H. trying hard to "feel some kind of a good-by" rather than just disappear from Pencey
Maybe H. believes just "disappeared" from his previous schools
"After I got across the road, I felt like I was sort of disappearing" (5).
2) On his way to see Old Spencer before leaving Pencey, has just run across Route 204
3) H. fears leaving no impact on Pencey (maybe on Spencer too).
H. beginning to detach from yet another school and community of people with whom might have connected
"I live in New York, and I was thinking about the lagoon in Central Park, down near Central Park South. I was wondering if it would be frozen over when I got home, and if it was, where did the ducks go? I was wondering where the ducks went when the lagoon got all icy and frozen over. I wondered if some guy came in a truck and took them away to a zoo or something. Or if they just flew away" (13).
2) Talking to Old Spencer but not paying attention
3) H. identifies with the ducks--like them, he may have nowhere to go this winter, now that he has been expelled.
Foreshadows H.'s time in NY and his escapist fantasies later in the novel
"Life is a game, boy. Life is a game that one plays according to the rules" (8).
1) Old Spencer
2) Echoing and agreeing with headmaster Thurmer's advice to Holden
3) Adult, but possibly naive, perspective that following rules yields success and happiness
Holden rejects this metaphor because feels a game only if one is on the winning team
H. skeptical that life always fair and that anyone can enjoy life
demonstrates H.'s cynicism but also perceptiveness
"People always think something's all true" (9).
2) Talking to Old Spencer but thinking about his own mix of immature and mature qualities
H.'s father and others accuse H. of being immature
H. concedes sometimes but not always true
3) H. being hypocritical because generalizing about people who generalize
H. voicing a reasonable point about people's tendencies to see the world in absolutes, no gray area
"...it was just that we were too much on opposite sides of the pole, that's all" (15).
2) Talking to Old Spencer, who has just said trying to help Holden
H. desperate to leave
3) H. feels will never reach true understanding with Old Spencer
H. quick to give up on connecting with someone rather than trying to find common ground
However, H. does value education more than he lets on--maybe not as far away from Spencer is his values as he thinks
"I'm quite illiterate, but I read a lot" (18).
2) in dorm room at Pencey, sits down alone to continue reading his book (Out of Africa), before Ackley interrupts
3) H. "illiterate" in terms of lack of academic success but very intelligent and well-read
Maybe does not read what teachers think is important (e.g. history textbook) but likes broad range of classic and contemporary literature
H. pays attention to detail in his reading, as he does in his everyday interactions and observations
"What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it" (18).
2) in dorm room at Pencey, reading and thinking about literature, before Ackley interrupts
3) H. passionate about reading, becomes emotionally invested in what he reads
More evidence of H.'s desire to connect with others, even if he is often unsuccessful
"He always shaved himself twice, to look gorgeous. With his crumby old razor" (30).
2) Describing Stradlater, his roommate
3) Stradlater epitomizes "phoniness" of 1940s/1950s America
S. is handsome and well-groomed, but a "secret slob"
S. appears to be a law-abiding, ethical person, but cheats on English essay, breaks rule regarding borrowing teachers' cars, AND does not respect a woman's right to say no
S. is prime example of appearance vs. reality
"'Yeah. She wouldn't move any of her kings. What she'd do, when she'd get a king, she wouldn't move it. She'd just leave it in the back row. She'd get them all lined up in the back row. Then she'd never use them. She just liked the way they looked when they were all in the back row.' Stradlater didn't say anything. That kind of stuff doesn't interest most people" (31-2).
2) Talking to Stradlater about Jane Gallagher
3) Unlike Stradlater, Holden knows and cares about Jane as a person
Holden's affection for Jane comes through in details he remembers about her and the time they spent together
Attention to detail here is typical of Holden and parallel to artist's perspective
Like artists of the 40s and 50s, H. unusual in his perceptiveness and sometimes, obsessiveness; others do not understand or take an interest
"...I went over to
my window and opened it and packed a snowball with my bare hands. The snow was
very good for packing. I didn't throw it at anything, though. I started to throw it. At a car
that was parked across the street. But I changed my mind. The car looked so nice and
white. Then I started to throw it at a hydrant, but that looked too nice and white, too.
Finally I didn't throw it at anything. All I did was close the window and walk around the
room with the snowball, packing it harder. A little while later, I still had it with me when
I and Brossard and Ackley got on the bus. The bus driver opened the doors and made me
throw it out. I told him I wasn't going to chuck it at anybody, but he wouldn't believe me.
People never believe you" (36-7).
2) Narrating as waiting for Ackley to get ready to go to the movies with Holden and Mal Brossard
3) Holden's first impulse is to throw the snowball, but he does not want to disturb the purity and beauty of the landscape.
Example of H.'s love for aesthetic beauty and almost obsessive desire to preserve innocence/purity
Bus driver's lack of trust disturbs H. because H. is being honest but the bus driver neither notices nor cares--again, H. feels misunderstood.
"So what I did, I wrote about my brother Allie's baseball mitt. It was a very
descriptive subject. It really was. My brother Allie had this left-handed fielder's mitt. He
was left-handed. The thing that was descriptive about it, though, was that he had poems
written all over the fingers and the pocket and everywhere. In green ink. He wrote them
on it so that he'd have something to read when he was in the field and nobody was up at
bat. He's dead now. He got leukemia and died when we were up in Maine, on July 18,
1946. You'd have liked him. He was two years younger than I was, but he was about fifty
times as intelligent. He was terrifically intelligent. His teachers were always writing
letters to my mother, telling her what a pleasure it was having a boy like Allie in their
class. And they weren't just shooting the crap. They really meant it. But it wasn't just that
he was the most intelligent member in the family. He was also the nicest, in lots of ways.
He never got mad at anybody" (38).
2) Narrating regarding the essay he wrote for Stradlater, which Stradlater will later criticize for not being about a house or room
3) H. and Allie shared love of reading/literature
H. desperately misses Allie and clings to memories and objects associated with him.
Allie better student and seemingly kinder than H., but instead of feeling competitive or resentful, H. praises his younger brother
Details reveal depth of H.'s grief (e.g. when cites exact date of Allie's death) but tries to adopt a detached, almost nonchalant tone; makes the passage even more moving
"This next part I don't remember so hot. All I know is I got up from the bed, like I
was going down to the can or something, and then I tried to sock him, with all my might,
right smack in the toothbrush, so it would split his goddam throat open. Only, I missed. I
didn't connect." (43).
2) Recounting fight with Stradlater after Stradlater returns from date with Jane; H. suspects Stradlater may have taken advantage of Jane
3) Demonstrates H.'s intense anger and protectiveness of those he loves
Has violent streak, but only emerges when he feels someone has truly been wronged
"Don't remember so hot" implies blackout due to rage, denial, or both
"You never saw such gore in your life....It partly scared me and it partly fascinated me. All that blood and all sort of made me look tough. I'd only been in about two fights in my life, and I lost both of them. I'm not too tough. I'm a pacifist, if you want to know the truth" (45-6).
2) Describing his injuries from fight with Stradlater; looking in mirror at his bloodied face
3) H. basically peacable (a self-proclaimed "pacifist") but raised in a culture that (still!) encouraged men fighting to defend women's honor; falls prey to gender roles and to his anger at how Stradlater might have disrespected Jane
Through Holden, Salinger voices general truth about humans' fascination with blood and gore--mix of horror and interest
"Almost every time someone gives me a present, it ends up making me sad" (52).
2) Describing how he feels about mother's gift of ice skates but also gifts in general
3) H. wealthy, privileged, spoiled in some ways, but aware and regretful of ways in which lets people down
Evidence of H.'s low self-esteem
"I put my red hunting hat on, and turned the peak around to the back, the way I liked it, and then I yelled at the top of my goddam voice 'Sleep tight, ya morons!'" (52)
2) Describing his departure from Pencey; has fought with Stradlater and tried, unsuccessfully, to have a real conversation with Ackley
3) H.'s hat a symbol of his difference from the mainstream (puts it on in an unusual way) and his attachment to Allie and Phoebe (red hair), BUT he does not usually wear it the unusual way in public
H. feeling upset, sad, angry as he leaves, despite his bravado
H. would rather have negative attention (screaming an insult/waking up the whole dorm) than disappear without a trace from Pencey
"She looked up at me and sort of smiled. She had a terrifically nice smile. She really did. Most people have hardly any smile at all, or a lousy one" (55).
2) Describing Mrs. Morrow, the mother of his classmate, Ernest Morrow
3) H. admires not only Mrs. Morrow's physical attractiveness, but also the honesty and genuineness of her smile
Evidence of Holden's doubting most (but not all) people's sincerity
H.'s instant affection for Mrs. Morrow leads him to tell her a string of lies about how popular her son is
Scene concludes with H. claiming to have a tumor on the brain; physical manifestation of mental illness/depression?
"Mothers are all slightly insane" (55).
2) Describing Mrs. Morrow's--and mothers' in general--naive perspective on their children; want only to think the best of them
3) H. generalizes about unconditional love of mothers for children; implication is that HIS mother also may have skewed view of Holden as better than he really is
Shows H.'s connection to his mother but also sense that he may not deserve people caring about him
"I'm so damn absent-minded, I gave the driver my regular address, just out of habit and all..." (60)
2) Has just arrived in New York and spent 20 minutes (!) trying to think of someone he feels safe and comfortable calling; sadly, to no avail.
Hails a cab and gives address of his parents' apartment; then, asks cabbie to turn around and head to a hotel
3) Error of Holden's part may indicate a secret desire to go home, even if afraid to face his disappointed parents
"'You know those ducks in that lagoon right near Central Park South? That little lake? By any chance, do you happen to know where they go, the ducks, when it gets all frozen over?" (60)
2) Talking to cab driver after telling cabbie will need to turn around and go to a hotel instead of original address; after this question, also invites cabbie out for a drink (cabbie declines)
3) H. returns to motif of the ducks in Central Park and the mystery of where they go in winter
H.'s position is parallel to the ducks': in cold, wintry, New York, unsure where to go next in his life, unwilling to go home yet but feeling lost
Cabbie does not trust H.'s sincerity and thinks H. is being a wise-alec (typical reaction of adults when H. tries to reach out to them)
"I'd just put on my red hunting cap when I was in the cab, just for the hell of it, but I took it off before I checked in. I didn't want to look like a screwball or something. Which is really ironic. I didn't know then that the goddam hotel was full of perverts and morons" (61).
2) Has just checked into the Edmont Hotel; self-consciously takes off his odd red hat
3) H.'s self-consciousness about hat indicates mixed feelings: wants to rebel, but afraid of being seen as odd or unusual--both wants to fit in and rejects the mainstream
Judgment of "perverts and morons" indicates H.'s relatively conservative attitudes toward sexuality
Later in chapter, H. reveals his belief that sex is "crumby" or immoral, and cannot bring himself to meet with promiscuous Faith Cavendish
"You'd like her. I mean if you tell old Phoebe something, she knows exactly what the hell you're talking about. I mean you can even take her anywhere with you" (67).
2) Thinking about and missing his younger sister; almost calls her but does not; as with Allie, praising Phoebe's many wonderful qualities
3) Evidence of H.'s deep affection for and connection to his siblings
Again, H. cites numerous details about a person he likes and respects (e.g. names of Phoebe's fictional heroine and favorite film); details evidence of how much cares for Phoebe
Most people do not seem to "get" Holden, but Phoebe does.
"I'd just about broken her heart—I really had. Some people you shouldn't kid, even if they deserve it" (74).
2) Has just lied to Laverne, "the ugly one" among three women from Seattle H. meets in the Lavender Room at the Edmont--tells her has just seen movie star Gary Cooper
H. instantly regrets lie when sees how upset L. is at having missed celebrity sighting
H.'s mix of snobbery and sympathy toward the women is typical of him--judges them for their lack of culture and sophistication, but also pities them and regrets taking advantage of their ignorance.
"...that business about getting up early to see the first show at Radio City Music Hall depressed me. If somebody, some girl in an awful-looking hat, for instance, comes all the way to New York—from Seattle, Washington, for god's sake—and ends up getting up early in the morning to see the goddam first show at Radio City Music Hall, it makes me so depressed I can't stand it" (74).
2) Voicing reaction to the three women from Seattle's plans to see the "corny" Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall
3) Holden a snob and an artist; does not appreciate the over-the-top glitz of the RCMH show and feels pity for those who do
Parallels H.'s views on literature, e.g. seeing D.B. writing screenplays as "prostituting himself" and not staying true to his real art