The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye Chapter 9 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In Penn Station in New York, Holden wants to talk to someone, and considers calling D.B., Phoebe (his younger sister), Jane, or another friend named Sally Hayes. He even considers calling a guy named Carl Luce, one of his classmates at the Whooton School, but he remembers that he doesn’t even like him very much. Because of this, decides not to call anyone. Exiting Penn Station, he hails a taxi and gets in, though he accidentally gives the driver his parents’ address, so he has to tell him to turn around, directing him to a place called the Edmont Hotel. On the way, he asks the driver where the ducks in the Central Park lagoon go in the winter, but the driver thinks he’s joking and gets annoyed. Undeterred, Holden invites the driver to have a cocktail with him when they reach the Edmont, but he declines the invitation.
As Holden makes his way through New York City as an inexperienced teenager, he yearns for company. Striking out on his own seemed like a great idea just a few hours ago, but now he feels quite lonely. This is because he formulated this plan as a direct response to his fight with Stradlater, meaning that he made this big decision in a moment of frustration, focusing solely on running away from his emotions—an impossible endeavor. As soon as he arrives in the city, then, what seemed at first like independence begins to turn into nothing but loneliness.
Themes
Alienation and Meltdown Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Madness, Depression, Suicide Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Before Holden checks in to a room in the Edmont, he takes off his hunting hat because he doesn’t want anyone to think he’s crazy, though he notes that this is a ridiculous notion, since the hotel is full of perverts. In fact, this entire area of the city seems to be teeming with people Holden thinks are perverted. When he gets to his room, he looks out the window and sees people in other rooms—in one particularly odd scene, he witnesses a couple spitting drinks into each other’s faces. And though he doesn’t want to, Holden finds himself getting slightly aroused by this, thinking that he’s a “sex maniac” despite the fact that he doesn’t actually understand sex at all.
Although Holden is nostalgic about his youth and childhood, he often tries to conceive of himself as an adult. In keeping with this, he thinks of himself as a “sex maniac” even as he recognizes that he doesn’t truly understand the complexities of sex. Furthermore, he judges the people he sees in the window even though he finds what they’re doing arousing—a sign that he’s quick to judge other people but hesitant (or even unwilling) to subject himself to the same standards to which he holds them. He refuses to acknowledge that he may be just as flawed as the people he writes off as “phony” or “perverted.”
Themes
Phoniness Theme Icon
Alienation and Meltdown Theme Icon
Women and Sex Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Once again, Holden thinks about calling Jane, but he finds the idea exhausting because he would have to pretend to be her uncle or something of that nature in order to convince someone at Jane’s dorm to give her the phone so late at night. Because he’s not in the right “mood” to do this, then, he decides to call Faith Cavendish, a woman whose number he got from a guy who told him that she is promiscuous. Making his voice deeper, he explains how he got her number, but she refuses to meet him that night. She does, however, suggest that they should get a drink the following day, but Holden doesn’t want to wait that long, so he tells her he’ll be leaving town. Already regretting this lie, he says goodbye and hangs up the phone.
Again, Holden longs for human company. This time, though, he hopes to satisfy his sexual desires, most likely because what he’s seen in the windows across the way has aroused him. However, he can’t call Jane to address these feelings because doing so would ruin his idea of her as an innocent and pure person who is untainted by the wretched adult world. Accordingly, he calls Faith Cavendish, since he has apparently no qualms about using her for sex. In this moment, then, readers see that Holden’s reverent attitude toward Jane has nothing to do with whether or not he respects women and everything to do with his unwillingness to sully his private conception of her.
Themes
Phoniness Theme Icon
Women and Sex Theme Icon