The Catcher in the Rye By J. D. Salinger Summary and Analysis Chapter 11

Summary

This short chapter is devoted almost exclusively to Holden's recollections of Jane Gallagher. Sitting in a "vomity-looking" chair in the lobby of the Edmont Hotel, he remembers how they met and what they did the summer before his sophomore year. He thinks he knows her "like a book." Despite the late hour, Holden still is not tired. He decides to visit Ernie's Nightclub in Greenwich Village.

Analysis

If she is as Holden remembers her, Jane is probably the one whom Holden should be dating instead of Sally Hayes. Jane lived next door to his family's summer home in Maine. Holden met her after his mother complained to the Gallaghers about their Doberman pinscher's habit of relieving itself on the Caulfield's lawn. Holden clearly appreciates and adores Jane, and she is someone he can talk with comfortably. Except for family members, she is the only person to whom he has shown Allie's baseball glove.

Holden loves Jane's idiosyncrasies. He loves it that she played golf with her eyes closed and once lost eight balls in a single round. He loves it that she is "muckle-mouthed," sending her lips in all directions when she is excited about something she is telling him. He loves it that she keeps her kings in the back row when they play checkers. He loves holding hands with her. Once, during the newsreel at the movie, she touched the back of his neck in such a way that it made a huge impression on Holden.

Jane does have a problem at home, however, and it may be beyond Holden's capacity to understand completely. He notices that her alcoholic stepfather attempts to dominate her, and when Holden asks Jane what the problem is, she starts to cry. When Holden sits by her and tries to comfort her, she sobs. He kisses her all over her face, but he wants us to know that she wouldn't let him kiss her on the mouth; they weren't really "necking." Jane is very young but has a terrific figure, and Holden wonders if maybe her stepfather has tried to "get wise" with her, but she says that the man has not. It's unlikely that Jane would admit this kind of event to Holden, and he prefers to think of her as living in innocence, untouched by the seamier side of life.

Even the hookers have left the lobby, and Holden wants to get out of the hotel for a while. He catches a cab and heads for Ernie's, a nightclub in Greenwich Village.

Glossary

glider a porch seat suspended in a frame so that it can glide or swing back and forth.

get wise with her here, to approach her sexually.

necking kissing, hugging, and caressing passionately.

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