The Catcher in the Rye By J. D. Salinger Summary and Analysis Chapter 15

Summary

Holden awakes around 10:00 Sunday morning. He phones an old girlfriend, Sally Hayes, and makes a date to meet her at 2:00 p.m. to catch a theater matinee. Holden checks out of the hotel and leaves his bags at a lock box in Grand Central Station. While eating a large breakfast (orange juice, bacon and eggs, toast and coffee) at a sandwich bar, he meets two nuns who are schoolteachers from Chicago, newly assigned to a convent "way the hell uptown," apparently near Washington Heights. They discuss Romeo and Juliet, and Holden gives them a donation of ten dollars.

Analysis

Holden is confused about women, and that shows in his relationship with Sally Hayes. Sally is everything that Jane Gallagher is not: conventional, superficial, stupid, and phony. She knows about theater and literature, and for a while that fooled Holden into thinking she was intelligent. But she uses words like "grand," — as in, "I'd love to. Grand." — and annoys with her pretense. Briefly, Holden wishes he had not called her. However, Sally is someone to spend the day with, and she is very good-looking. Holden is both drawn to and repelled by her. At least he knows what to expect.

Holden dislikes the theater almost as much as the movies. Both are contrived and artificial, and the audiences applaud for the wrong reasons, just as they did at Ernie's. The meeting with the nuns further reveals Holden's aesthetics, his sense of taste in the arts. Because one of the nuns is an English teacher, they begin to discuss Shakespeare's tragedy Romeo and Juliet. It is no surprise that Holden's favorite character is Mercutio, Romeo's glib, subversive best friend. Holden resents betrayal, even accidental betrayal, and he dislikes Romeo after the hero inadvertently causes Tybalt to kill Mercutio. Mercutio is Holden's kind of guy: bright and fun, a bit of a smart-mouth. Holden finds the drama "quite moving," but we suspect that he would have preferred a play in which Mercutio is the main character.

Holden feels good about the donation he has given to the nuns, but he is becoming concerned about money. He left Pencey with quite a "wad of dough" because his grandmother had just sent him a lavish birthday gift. (She has a faulty memory and sends him birthday money several times a year.) But Holden is careless with money. What he doesn't spend, he loses. He rather foolishly paid for all of the drinks for the tourist girls at the Lavender Room, and he dropped ten bucks (a considerable amount of money in 1949) on Sunny. Now he faces a date with Sally who, we might suspect, is not low-maintenance.

Glossary

necked kissed, hugged, and caressed passionately.

matinee a reception or performance, as of a play, held in the afternoon.

West Point military reservation in southeastern New York state; site of the U.S. Military Academy.

Grand Central Station a famous, expansive train station in New York City.

bourgeois of or characteristic of a person whose beliefs, attitudes, and practices are conventionally middle-class.

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