Free Study Guide for The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

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Holden is to meet Carl Luce at the Wicker Bar, which is in a very nice hotel. The bar often features Tina and Janine, who sing silly songs in French and English. Holden recalls that they are not very talented, but that everyone in the bar gets all excited about the duo. The thought of their phoniness, naturally, bothers Holden.

Holden arrives at the Wicker Bar early and manages to find a seat even though it is crowded. While he waits, Holden drinks scotch and sodas and watches some gay guys at the bar. He begins to think about sex, a subject that he expects he will have lots to talk about with Carl Luce. Carl arrives and begins to drink. He seems bored and anxious to leave. At several points in the conversation, he tells Holden to grow up and quit being so childish. Holden persists in talking about sex even though Carl seems uninterested. Once again, as with Sally, Holden grows excited while talking and has to be told to lower his volume. When Carl is ready to leave, Holden pleads with him to stay a little longer. Carl, however, has had enough of Holden. As he departs he suggests that Holden should be psychoanalyzed.


The opening of this chapter seems to be a repetition of Holden’s earlier remarks about the selling of talent and the difference between real art and popular art. When he remembers the duo that sometimes sing at the Wicker Bar, he thinks about the phoniness of their performance and the audience’s response. It is interesting to note that Holden is very quick to condemn the patrons of the places he himself chooses to go; it is like he is condemning himself. On the other hand, since he chooses to go places where it always seems "the phonies are coming in the window", it is possible that Holden’s depression stems from not finding any place free of phoniness.

Though Holden looks forward to Carl’s arrival, it is mostly out of extreme boredom. He does not like Carl, but usually enjoys his stories about his sexual escapades. Holden acts as if he has learned all he knows about sex from Carl. By the time his friend arrives, Holden has abandoned any thought of "intellectual conversation" in favor of a frank discussion of sex; but Carl is not interested in talking about sex on this night. As a result, what little conversation they have is halting and uncomfortable.

Carl reveals to Holden that his father is a psychoanalyst. Holden asks Carl about being analyzed, and Carl says it seems to help a person understand himself. Carl, however, has no understanding of Holden. Since he does not recognize Holden’s desperation, Carl gets ready to leave. Holden begs him to stay and states, "I’m lonesome as hell." Carl does not seem to care. When he suggests Holden undergo psychoanalysis, it is not given as friendly advice, but stated in annoyance and without the remotest shred of human concern. Holden has been rejected one more time.


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