Free Study Guide for The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger|
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CHAPTER SUMMARY WITH NOTES
At the beginning of the chapter, Holden cannot stop thinking about the nuns, one of whom reminds him of Mrs. Morrow. This is probably because Mrs. Morrow and the nun are the only two people with whom Holden has had real conversation since he left Pencey Prep. All other attempts at communication--with the taxi drivers, the three secretaries at the bar, and the prostitute--have failed miserably.
Holden seems most comfortable in the world of children. He believes all of them are like Phoebe, honest and unpretentious--never phony. It is obvious that Holden is crazy about his little sister. He wants to buy her the record because he instinctively knows she will like it. As soon as it is purchased, he wants to find Phoebe in the park and give it to her. When he cannot find his sister, Holden asks a little girl in Central Park who knows Phoebe if she would like to join him for a hot chocolate. He also helps two mismatched children play on the see-saw. In spite of his kindnesses, the children act like they do not want Holden around. Even these innocent beings reject him; he does not belong once again.
Holden also watches a young boy walking on the curb behind his parents. The child is singing to himself, and the song goes "if a body catch a body coming through the rye". This child’s happiness has a cheering effect on Holden, probably because he has always liked the song about the rye. Later, he will confess to Phoebe that he has always thought of himself as the catcher in the Rye - -a person who protects children from the adult world.
Holden is heading for the natural history museum, reminiscing about past visits there when he was young. What he liked best then, and still likes, is the permanence of the exhibits, the way the Indian in the display has always caught two fish and is about to catch a third. The only thing that changes, Holden reflects, is the people who go there. Holden wonders if Phoebe thinks of this and wonders if she feels changes in herself the way he feels them inside him.
When Holden finally arrives at the museum, he discovers he no longer wants to go inside. He gets in a cab and goes to find Sally, losing an opportunity to see the differences in himself reflected by the exhibits in the museum.
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. 09 May 2017