The Catcher in the Rye


Chapter 16 to Chapter 20

Chapter 16

After leaving Grand Central, Holden heads toward Broadway and tries to imagine Sally’s mother collecting donations like the nuns. He states she would make everyone kiss her ass if they made a donation, otherwise she would get too bored. He considers that he likes the nuns because they probably never eat anywhere swanky—but this thought also depresses him.

As he is walking he sees a mother and father and their small son, obviously just come from church. They are not very rich judging by their clothes. They are also paying no attention to their small son and he walks in the street but near the curb, oblivious to everything except the straight line he is trying to walk. The boy also sings, “If a body catch a body coming through the rye.” Meanwhile, cars zoom by and breaks screech. This scene cheers Holden and lifts his spirits: he sees in it a kind of symbol of life.

Broadway is mobbed with people all dressed up and going to the movies—and in a hurry about it. Holden gets depressed again because he cannot stand people who actually want to go to the movies and will wait in a long line to see one. He only goes because there is just nothing else to do. He stops in a record shop and purchases a record that he thinks Phoebe will enjoy: “Little Shirley Beans.” This makes him happy again and he hopes to see Phoebe in the park so he can give it to her.

This made him feel so happy, he decides to call Jane. He stops in a phone booth and calls, but her mother answers and Holden hangs up because he does not want to get pulled into any explanation of what he has been up to. He regrets that he did not ask if Jane was home—but he insists that his mood just did not allow it.

Instead of tickets to a movie, Holden buys tickets to a theatre performance, thinking that Sally would like to see a show that is billed as something great, since she is “queen of the phonies.” Holden then reflects on a performance of Hamlet that D. B. took him and...

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