Arriving at Penn Station in New York, Holden considers calling someone. He mentally runs through a list of people, but after twenty minutes, he emerges from the phone booth having called no one. He walks to the taxi stand and hails one to take him to the Edmont Hotel, which is cheap and sleazy. For lack of anything better to do, Holden looks out the window of his room and notices the "perverts and morons" in the windows across from his; he spies cross-dressers and a couple having kinky sex. Bored with the view, Holden thinks about calling Jane Gallagher. Instead, he calls a woman named Faith Cavendish, whose telephone number he was given from some "guy that went to Princeton". Although not a prostitute, she supposedly "does not mind doing it once in a while". On the phone, Holden explains that he is feeling "pretty horny", but gets no response. Since the phone call proves unproductive, Holden remains alone and frustrated.
In New York, Holden feels a desperate urge for human connection. He goes into a phone booth and stays for twenty minutes, but can think of no one to call. In his loneliness, Holden even tries to strike up a conversation with the taxi driver, asking him whether he knows where the ducks from Central Park go when the water freezes. Once again, Holden is concerned about their safe escape, a concern that parallels his own unrealized need for a safe haven. At the hotel, which is sleazy and gloomy to match his mood, he looks out the window for human contact and spies only perverts. He finally calls Faith Cavendish, who is known as a loose woman, but even she rejects Holden. At the end of the chapter he feels more isolated and depressed than ever.
Still desperate for connection, Holden contemplates calling his younger sister Phoebe, but changes his mind because his parents would be most likely to answer the phone. Since he is not tired, he decides to go to the Lavender Room, the nightclub at the hotel. He washes up, changes into a clean shirt, and heads downstairs. In the club, Holden is given a bad table, and the waiter refuses to serve him alcohol without an I. D. Three women are seated at the next table, and Holden summons up the courage to ask if any of them would care to dance. He eventually dances with all three and pays for their drinks. When they get up to leave, he tries unsuccessfully to convince them to stay, even though they are not interesting company. Shortly after they depart, Holden leaves as well.
Holden's need for human contact is again underscored in this chapter. He first thinks of calling Phoebe, his younger sister whom he adores. He never feels threatened by her, for "if you tell old Phoebe something, she knows exactly what the hell you're talking about. I mean you can even take her anywhere with you." It is significant to note that Phoebe is only ten years old, and yet Holden feels greater companionship with her than anyone else in the book; she is too young to judge Holden, but lovingly accepts him as he is. Holden is looking for the same kind of acceptance throughout life.
Since he fears one of his parents will answer the phone, Holden does not try to reach Phoebe. Instead, he goes down to the nightclub in the hotel. Even here he is made to feel rejected, for he is seated at a bad table and not allowed to order an alcoholic drink. His attempt to engage the three girls in conversation and dancing is another attempt on Holden's part to connect with humanity. Although they show no interest in Holden, they dance with him and expect him to pay their bill. In the end, however, they too desert Holden, leaving him once again terribly alone and depressed.