The Catcher in the Rye
J. D. Salinger
Contributed by Marinda Dreiling
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Chapter 19

The Wicker Bar is a pompous place that normally features two French girls singing dirty songs, though the girls don’t seem to be there when Holden arrives to meet Carl Luce. Carl, who is a bit older and certainly considers himself in another planet than Holden as far as wisdom goes, comes across as a pretty stiff and snobby guy. He drinks extra-dry martinis and dismisses most of Holden’s attempts at conversation, which are admittedly a bit juvenile. Holden is particularly agitated about sex in this scene, and has his first bout of homophobia, calling gay men "flits." Carl Luce apparently knows some things about girls and sex. He says, for instance, he’s currently dating a foreign sculptress in her late thirties. Holden keeps trying to get some details out of him. Carl Luce refuses to answer these "typical Caulfield questions...." (pg. 146) When Holden tries to be honest and explain how the problem with his sex life is that he can’t get turned on by a girl unless he really likes her, Carl advises he go to a psychoanalyst. Luce’s father is a psychoanalyst, and apparently Carl has made this suggestion before.

Not surprisingly, Luce leaves when he feels he’s stayed his obligatory time, even though Holden practically begs him to stay.

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