The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye Chapter 14 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Alone in his hotel room once again, Holden starts talking aloud to Allie. He does this sometimes when he feels very depressed. When Holden speaks to his dead brother, he remembers a time when he told Allie that he couldn’t come biking with Holden and his friend in Maine. At the time, Allie was very disappointed but didn’t argue, but now Holden wishes he had included him. For this reason, he talks to Allie when he gets sad, telling him to go get his bike. Getting into bed after saying this, Holden tries to pray but finds himself unable to get into the right mindset, mostly because he is “sort of an atheist” and tends to dislike religion because most ministers he’s met speak in a phony tone of voice.
That Holden speaks to his dead brother when he’s depressed confirms that he has yet to process his emotions about Allie’s death. Feeling sad and alone, he tries to find comfort in reaching out to Allie, but this effort is futile because Holden is an atheist and therefore doesn’t actually believe that his brother can hear him. As a result, his attempt to connect with Allie fails, leaving him feeling even more alone than before. Worse, he can’t even get himself to pray in a general sense, so he focuses once again on “phoniness” instead of thinking about his emotions.
Themes
Phoniness Theme Icon
Alienation and Meltdown Theme Icon
Madness, Depression, Suicide Theme Icon
Unable to sleep, Holden lights a cigarette and sits on the bed smoking until a knock sounds on the door. Jumping up, he opens the door to find Maurice and Sunny. Maurice demands $5, claiming that he and Holden had agreed that he would pay a grand total of $10 to sleep with Sunny. Standing his ground, Holden refuses to pay Maurice more money, so Maurice pins him while Sunny takes his wallet. At this point, Holden begins to cry and accuses Sunny and Maurice of stealing from him, so Maurice pushes him. Still, Holden continues to disparage them, so Maurice snaps his fingers against his crotch. Furious, Holden calls him a “dirty moron,” prompting Maurice to punch him in the stomach. As he crumples to the floor, Sunny and Maurice leave with their five extra dollars.
Throughout The Catcher in the Rye, Holden encounters many different kinds of phoniness. Some of the forms of inauthenticity he comes across are admittedly not very pronounced, as is the case when he takes issue with Lillian Simmons’s pleasantries or Stradlater’s secret messiness, but some are quite glaring. This is the case in this moment, as Maurice behaves dishonestly by changing the price that he and Holden originally agreed upon. Needless to say, he does this because he recognizes that Holden is quite young and inexperienced, so Maurice takes advantage of his relative helplessness. And yet, Holden refuses to back down, even though it’s obvious that he’s putting himself in danger by protesting. In the same way that he refused to stop calling Stradlater a moron when they got into a fight, he now continues to provoke Maurice, demonstrating yet again his self-destructive streak.
Themes
Phoniness Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
When Sunny and Maurice leave, Holden imagines that he’s in an action movie, pretending that he’s been shot in the gut by an enemy. Walking around the room with his hand over his make-believe bullet wound, he envisions how he would take his revenge if he were a true action hero, but this fantasy soon dissolves, leaving him even more depressed than before. Getting back in bed, he briefly feels like committing suicide by jumping out the window, telling himself that he would really do this if he knew somebody would put a blanket over his body so people couldn’t gape at him when he landed.
The extent of Holden’s depression is rather alarming. At first, his sadness seems more or less average, since most people would feel lonely while staying in a low-rate hotel in the middle of New York City as a wayward 16-year-old. However, it becomes clear in this moment that Holden is dealing with something a bit more serious, since his discontent leads him to fantasize about suicide. 
Themes
Alienation and Meltdown Theme Icon
Madness, Depression, Suicide Theme Icon
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