The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

I was a poor child and my parents were touchy on issues. My brother visits me every weekend. He used to be a writer, but now he’s a prostitute in Hollywood. Pencey, my school, was disappointing. There’s weren’t many girls at school. School was terrible to say the least. Selma Thurmer was not a pretentious girl at all and I liked that. I was the fencing team’s manager. I got sacked from school due to poor grades. The school had plenty of crooks although it was expensive in fees. I was a heavy smoker and quite a heavy guy.

‘I mean I’ve left schools and places I didn’t even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don’t care if it’s a sad goodbye or a bad goodbye, but when I leave a place I like to know I’m leaving it. If you don’t, you feel even worse.’ Holden Caulfield

I visited my ex-history teacher, Mr Spencer, in the cold. Spencer managed to get a bargain on a carpet purchase and I (Holden) was impressed. The principal told me that life was a game and that I should play by the rules. I was 16 and had already been to 4 schools. I could sense Mr Spencer was going to lecture me. My results were horrendous and I was failing almost everything. He reprimanded me for failing History without reading the text. Mr Spencer was being sarcastic in his tone as he read my essay out loud. I gave him a bunch of bullshit when he asked me what would I do in his shoes. I left Elkton Hills because it was surrounded by phonies and mean people. . The headmaster was very judging and would only talk to people who were good looking. Spencer was again being depressing and rude. A part of me felt sorry was the state he was in.

I lied to Spencer about needing to leave because I wanted to gym. I’m a huge liar. My roommate was Ossenburger and he liked to preach. Herb Gale (Ackley) was a disgusting guy with a bad personality. He liked to pick up people’s personal belongings and made people repeat what they said twice. I could be very sarcastic and mean towards him as well. Stradlater had a date and couldn’t join them. Ackley hated Stradlater and called him a son of a bitch. Suddenly, Stradlater entered the room. He wanted to borrow my jacket because his was stained. He was handsome and had a good bod. He asked for a favor and I obliged to help. It turns out that I had to write an essay for him. I started tap dancing for no reason. I grabbed him by the neck as I was pissed. It turns out that he was dating Jean Gallagher. I happened to know her dog and that she loved dancing. Her parents were divorced. Instinctively, I wanted to head downstairs and say hi to her. Stradlater wasn’t that nosy but Ackley was. He was a nosy little bastard

The steaks served were horrible and too hard. Mal Brossard and I decided to catch a movie. Ackley joined as well. Ackley was a terribly boring guy who liked to repeat the same stories. I finally started on Stradlater’s composition and eventually finished it. I wrote about my brother, Allie’s, baseball mitt. He passed away from leukemia. He was the nicest and most intelligent person in my family.

‘Finally Ackley came over and asked me who was going to the movies besides me. He always had to know who was going. I swear, if that guy was shipwrecked somewhere, and you rescued him in a goddamn boat, he’d want to know who the guy was that was rowing before he’d even get in.’ Holden Caulfield

Stradlater was back from his date. He didn’t mention about Jane at all. It was no surprise that he had a huge ego and liked how he looked. I tore the essay up after he criticized it. I purposely smoked in his dorm even though I knew it was illegal. The both of them sat in the car during the date. All the athletics bastards stick together. I started fighting with him suddenly. However, he was too strong and overpowering. After he released me, I called him a moron and he hit me again. I lost the fight and I was bleeding from the nose. Still, I was in a mad rage over Stradlater.

Ackley was awake late at night. Ackley realized that Stradlater and I fought. I slept on Ely’s bed that night as he was away for the night. Stradlater was the kind of guy who liked to have sex with girls. I asked Ackley what it took to join a monastery. I felt sad and lonesome and wanted to get out of Pencey immediately. I packed my stuff. Then I was off in the middle of the night. My plan was to stay in a cheap motel in New York for a short while. I was out.

I walked to the station in the cold. I didn’t know anyone around me. In the train, I didn’t want to do anything. A woman, approximately 45 years old, sat beside me. Her son was Ernest Morrow, my classmate in Pencey. I lied about my real name and the fact was that Ernest was a perk in school. Ernest was extremely sensitive. We began smoking on the train. She was a charming lady. I praised Ernest and soon she was glued to her seat. The problem was that Ernie was shy. You stay a rat your whole life.

‘You take somebody’s mother, all they want to hear about is what a hot-shot their son is.’ Holden Caulfield

I wanted to call someone on the phone but didn’t know who to dial. Sally came to mind. She was an old friend of mine. I took a cab to Edmont Hotel and wanted to stay overnight for 2 nights. The hotel was full of perverts and weirdos. A couple were squirting water all over each others’ face and they thought it was cool. I often broke my sex rules. I called Faith Cavendish, she was a friend’s friend. I gave her my real name, Holden Caulfield. Immediately, I suggested that we meet for cocktails. As it was late, it was difficult for us to get a cocktail. Eventually, we didn’t meet because she wasn’t free.

‘I think if you don’t really like a girl, you shouldn’t horse around with her at all, and if you do like her, then you’re supposed to like her face, and if you like her face, you ought to be careful about doing crumby stuff to it, like squirting water all over it.’ Holden Caulfield

I wanted to call my little sister but would’nt want my parents finding out where I was. I was the dumbest guy in the family. The problem with Phoebe was that she was too emotional. There was a club downstairs and I wanted to see what it was like. The band was crappy too. I approached their table and asked them whether any of them would like to dance. The blonde one agreed and soon we were off. It turns out that she was a greater dancer. Apparently she didn’t how I was talking to her. I started to like her. It was very difficult to engage them in an intellectual conversation. The three girls kept looking for movie stars to enter the bar.

‘That’s the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty, even if they’re not much to look at, or even if they’re sort of stupid, you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are. Girls. They drive you crazy. They really can.’ Holden Caulfield

‘There isn’t any night club in the world you can sit in for a long time unless you can at least buy some liquor and get drunk. Or unless you’re with some girl that really knocks you out.’ Holden Caulfield

I called Jane Gallagher on the phone. I knew Stradlater gave her the time in the car. She was knew a funny gal, which I liked. I hated those people who only talked to you when they wanted something off you. Suddenly, she started crying and I had to comfort her. We never necked or horsed around. We held hands in the cinema. Once, she placed her hand at the back of my neck and damn it felt good. I boarded a cab and headed to Ernie’s. It was another night club. Ernie was a guy who could play the piano damn well and I wanted to hear him.

I wanted to know what happened to the ducks in Central Park during winter. The driver was a touchy guy and I dropped the topic. Ernie didn’t play well that day but people went mad. I managed to order alcohol at Ernie’s. I was surrounded by jerks. Lillian Simmons once dated my brother D.B. and she came over to chat with me. She was dating a Navy guy. I left because I hated the crowd.

‘I’m always saying “Glad to have met you” to somebody I’m not at all glad I met. If you want to stay alive, you have to say that stuff, though.’ Holden Caulfield

I walked all the way back to the hotel. I was depressed and wanted to have another drink. The lobby was all empty. One guy wanted to bring a gal over to my room late in the night. I agreed. I am a virgin. Usually, when I want to do it with a gal, the gal will ask me to stop. I will do just that. Most guys won’t stop. I wanted to get some practice in case I was married in future. The prostitute had a green dress underneath. She was very nervous for a prostitute. She pulled the dress over her head. I wasn’t turned on by that, strangely. I wanted to talk to her more than have sex with her. She didn’t really want to chat and wanted to get on with it. Honestly, I was more depressed than sexy. I paid her and then she left. It was all so depressing.

I started talking to myself. I hated the Disciples in the Bible and didn’t feel like praying right now. I didn’t visit church very much. Someone knocked on my door. It was Maurice, the guy who introduced the prostitute to me. The problem was that I only paid Sunny 5 bucks when she wanted 10. Maurice shoved me. Initially, Maurice agreed that the price would be 5 bucks. Now, he was going against his word. Sunny took another 5 bucks from my wallet. The problem was that Maurice was still pissed at me. I insulted Maurice and he hit me. I stayed in the bathroom for about an hour. Now, I felt like committing suicide.

I didn’t sleep for long at all. I smoked another cigarette in my room. I called Sally. Her parents answered the phone. We arranged to meet later that day. I had breakfast and realized that I spent a lot of money in the past 2 weeks. People cared about what suitcases others carried. I started talking to 2 nuns. They gave me 10 bucks for carrying these suitcases. We started talking about books. The thing is that I really enjoyed conversing with them. Thankfully, the nuns didn’t ask whether I was a Catholic before they left.

The nuns were thrifty people and I liked that. A boy on the street started singing ‘If a body catch a body coming through the rye’. I felt much better. I entered a record store and planned to get ‘Little Shirley Beans’ for my sister. I bought tickets to a theatre performance for Sally. Phoebe wasn’t at the park. I tried the Museum of Natural History. She wasn’t in the museum too and I went for my date with Sally. She looked great. I confessed that I liked her.

‘You kept wondering what the hell would happen to all the girls when they got out of school and college, I mean. You figured most of them would probably marry dopey guys. Guys that always talk about how many miles they get to a gallon in their goddamn cars. Guys that get sore and childish as hell if you beat them at golf, or even just some stupid game like ping-pong. Guys that are very mean. Guys that never read books. Guys that are very boring… I don’t understand boring guys.’ Holden Caulfield

‘All that crap they have in cartoons and all, showing guys on street corners looking sore as hell because their dates are late – that’s bunk. If a girl looks swell when she meets you, who gives a damn if she’s late? Nobody.’ Holden Caulfield

‘If you do something too good, then, after a while, if you don’t watch it, you start showing off. And then you’re not as good anymore.’ Holden Caulfield

Sally and her friend George was having some phony conversation which I couldn’t stand. We went ice skating after the theatre. She wanted to look all pretty and stuff. I admitted to her I hated school very much. I hated how everything in New York was, how phony the people were etc. I hated the cliques that people formed with one another. I suggested to her that we head to a Greenwich village. She rejected this crazy proposal and I shouted at her. To comfort her, I promised to get a job after our proposed ‘vacation’. I was convinced that in future when we were all working, things wouldn’t be the same anymore. She blew up after I told her she was depressing. I wasn’t behaving coherently and it was partly my fault for suggesting a ridiculous vacation.

I had a Swiss cheese sandwich and I felt like dancing with Jane. I called Carl Luce. The show I watched was atrocious. The Army was full of bastards.

‘The trouble with girls is, if they like a boy, no matter how big a bastard he is, they’ll say he has an inferiority complex, and if they don’t like him, no matter how nice a guy he is, or how big an inferiority complex he has, they’ll say he’s conceited. Even smart girls do it.’ Holden Caulfield

The Wicked Bar is some swanky hotel in NY. Luce knew a lot about sex. The intellectual guys like him didn’t want to discuss anything intellectual unless they felt like it. He admitted he liked Chinese girls more than Western gals. My questions to him were too personal and he didn’t take too kindly to them. Now, he didn’t want to go after a few drinks at a bar.

Valencia was the singer at the bar but left after her shift was over. I was dead drunk when I left the bar. I dialed Sally up late in the night and she could tell I was drunk. She didn’t want me over at her place. I had a conversation with the piano player in the restroom for a while. He was like Stradlater. Now, I was depressed and all so lonesome. I was seriously upset and walked to the park to visit the ducks. Accidentally, I dropped Phoebe’s record and it shattered. I walked around the park but didn’t see any ducks. It was bitterly cold and my teeth were chattering. I imagined myself dying and the people who would visit me at my funeral. Although I had a few nickels, I threw them into the pond. Now, I decided to go home.

I opened my house door quietly. I got to Phoebe’s room finally. I flipped open her book in her room. I woke her up and she exclaimed ‘Holden!’ I promised her that I could go to her play. My parents weren’t in thankfully. She guessed that I was kicked out from school and made a big hooha. She kept a pillow over her head and refused to budge.

‘It’s funny. You take adults, they look lousy when they’re asleep and have their mouths way open, but kids don’t. Kids look all right. They can even have spit all over their pillow and they still look all right.’ Holden Caulfield

Now, she was ostracizing me after she removed the pillow. Just like how the fencing team did to me when I left their foils on the subway. It was a stinky school with phonies. I explained that to Phoebe. That’s why I wanted out. She lamented that I didn’t like anything. I couldn’t think of anything I liked. I only liked the two nuns and a boy who was bullied and committed suicide.

‘Just because someone’s dead, you don’t stop liking them, for God’s sake – especially if they were about a thousand times nice than the people you know that’re alive and all.’ Holden Caulfield

‘Lawyers are all right, but they don’t appeal to me. They’re all right if they go around saving innocent guys’ lives. But you don’t do that kind of stuff if you’re a lawyer. All you do is make a lot of money and play golf and play bridge and buy cars and drink Martinis and look like a hot-shot. And besides, even if you did go around saving guy’s lives, how would you know if you did it because you really wanted to save guys’ lives, or because you did it because you really wanted to be a terrific lawyer, with everyone slapping you on the back and congratulating you in court when the trial is over, the reporters and everybody, the way it is in the movies? How would you know you weren’t being a phony? The trouble is, you wouldn’t.’ Holden Caulfield

If a body meet a body coming through the rye. I would like to the catcher in the rye, and prevent small kids from running off the cliff.

I called Mr Antolini, my previous teacher. He was one of the best teachers I ever had. He was the one who carried James Castle to the infirmary. Phoebe and I started dancing. Suddenly, I heard the door moving and my parents were back. I realized it was the best time to leave now. She lent me some money since I was out of cash and I cried.

I visited Mr Antolini. He expressed concern over my results in school. I had a real bad headache then. I like it when people digresses in a speech. He explained what kind of fall I was undergoing. It was mainly because the environment couldn’t provide what I was looking for. He wanted to write me something. ‘Your first move will be to apply yourself in school…You’re in love with knowledge…’. I was so sleepy and soon feel asleep although the conversation was interesting. Find the size of your mind. Suddenly he touched my head in the middle of the night, scaring him. I realized all of a sudden that I needed to leave and so I left.

‘I mean is, lots of time you don’t know what interests you most till you start talking about something that doesn’t interest you most. I mean you can’t help it sometimes. You’re supposed to leave somebody alone if he’s at least being interesting and he’s getting all excited about something. I like it when that happens. It’s nice.’ Holden Caulfield

‘The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of a mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.’ Wilhelm Stekel

‘You’re going to start getting closer and closer to where you want to go, if you want to, and if you look for it and wait for it – to the kind of information that will be very, very dear to your heart. You’re by no means alone on the score that you have been sickened by human behavior, you’ll be excited and stimulated to know. Men as troubled as you have kept records of their troubles. You’ll learn from them. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It’s a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. It isn’t education. It’s history. It’s poetry.’ Mr Antolini

‘It is not true that only educated and scholarly men are able to contribute something valuable to the world. But such educated men who are brilliant and creative to begin with, tend to leave infinitely more valuable records behind than those who are merely brilliant and creative. They tend to express themselves more clearly and usually have a passion for following their thoughts to the end.’ Mr Antolini

I didn’t where to go and I was depressed again. I contemplated returning to his house, just that I found that he panted me incredibly weird. I thought I had cancer. It was a Monday. While wondering around, I tried locating the two nuns. I decided to just venture to the West and find a new job and start afresh without anyone recognizing me. I wanted to pretend to be a deaf-mute so that no one would have useless conversations with me. After buying a notebook from a stationary shop, I headed to her school to drop her the farewell note. In the school, I rubbed out the words ‘Fuck you’ on the wall. I left the note with one of the teachers in the school. Two boys asked me where the mummies were while I waited for my sister. I passed out when I was in the toilet. Thankfully, it didn’t hurt much. Suddenly, I saw my sister dragging a huge suitcase. She wanted to go with me. She was insistent while I was in shock. She cried as I didn’t want her to follow me. Phoebe refused to head to school. In a twist, now she didn’t want to be in the play anymore. I told her I changed my mind about running away and she just ran across the street without looking at traffic. I didn’t follow her. Deep inside me, I knew she had to follow me and follow me she did. We headed to the zoo. My sister didn’t talk to me at all as she was sore. She rode on the carousel alone while I waited for her. Now, she wasn’t mad at me anymore. It started pouring heavily. Even though I was drenched, I was so damn happy to see my sister enjoying herself.

I did indeed go back to school the next semester. But I won’t be talking about it. D.B, my brother, came to visit. He was alright. The thing is I missed those who I told them about the above story, like Stradlater and Ackley.

catcher-in-the-rye

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