The majority of the novel takes place in December 1949. The story commences with Holden Caulfield describing encounters he has had with students and faculty of Pencey Prep in Agerstown, Pennsylvania. He criticizes them for being superficial, or, as he would say, "phony." After being expelled from the school for his poor academic performance, Holden packs up and leaves the school in the middle of the night after a physical altercation with his roommate. He takes a train to New York but does not want to return to his family and instead checks into the dilapidated Edmont Hotel. There, he spends an evening dancing with three tourist girls and has a clumsy encounter with a young prostitute named Sunny. His attitude toward the prostitute changes the minute she enters the room, because she seems to be about the same age as Holden. Holden becomes uncomfortable with the situation, and when he tells her that all he wants to do is talk, she becomes annoyed with him and leaves. However, he still pays her for her time. Sunny and Maurice, her pimp, later return to Holden's hotel room and demand more money than was originally agreed upon. Despite the fact that Sunny takes five dollars from Holden's wallet, Maurice punches Holden in the stomach.
Holden calls up his old girlfriend, Sally Hayes, to invite her to see a musical. Sally very excitedly agrees, and they meet for the play. After the play Holden and Sally go skating, and while drinking coffee Holden impulsively invites Sally to run away with him, but she declines. Her response deflates Holden's mood, which prompts a remark: "You give me a royal pain in the ass, if you want to know the truth" , he tells her, regretting it immediately. Sally storms off as Holden follows, pleading with her to accept his apology. Finally, Holden gives up and leaves her there. Holden spends a total of three days in the city, and this time is characterized largely by drunkenness and loneliness. At one point he ends up at a museum, where...
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