The Catcher in the Rye
J. D. Salinger
Contributed by Marinda Dreiling
Chapter 14

It’s been a truly rotten night for Holden. Sitting in his dumpy room, smoking cigarettes, Holden tries to find a little consolation by talking to Allie, his dead brother. This turns into an attempt at prayer, though Holden is "sort of an atheist" (pg. 99), and can’t really muster the proper enthusiasm. At any rate, all this comes to a sharp end with a knock at the door.

Holden, who’s nervous and in his pajamas, opens the door to find Sunny and Maurice, the elevator man/pimp. They’ve come for their five bucks, which Holden, on principle, really does not want to fork over. Old Maurice keeps calling Holden "chief," and finally gets up in Holden’s face, first giving him a sharp flick of his finger on the vulnerable part of his pajama pants, and then a solid slug in the stomach. They take the five dollars from Holden’s wallet and leave him writhing on the floor. It feels rotten, but Holden can’t resist the opportunity to pretend he’s a wounded character in the movies, struggling to cover his gaping bullet wound and avenge this own wound with the help of an automatic weapon. This imagination is hardly his own: "The goddam movies. They can ruin you. I’m not kidding." Chapter 14, pg. 104

Topic Tracking: Lies and Imagination 4

After a bath, Holden finally gets into bed. It’s been a colossally bad first day of vacation. So bad, Holden says, he almost feels like killing himself.

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