The Catcher in the Rye
J. D. Salinger
Contributed by Marinda Dreiling
Chapter 9

After he gets off the train at Penn Station, Holden heads to a phone booth, where he spends about twenty minutes trying to think of someone to call: his brother, D.B.; his sister, Phoebe; his old flame Sally Hayes. In the end, Holden’s got an excuse for why it’s a bad time to call each one of them and decides to catch a cab downtown instead.

The cabbie is not one for conversation, and he’s put-off by Holden’s absentmindedness and his strange questions. His obsession with the ducks in Central Park, which he first mentioned when he was back at old Mr. Spencer’s house, comes up again. He asks the cabbie, "’You know those ducks in that lagoon right near Central Park South? That little lake? By any chance, do you happen to know where they go, the ducks, when it gets all frozen over? Do you happen to know, by any chance?’" Chapter 9, pg. 60 The cab driver brushes off the question, refuses Holden’s offer to join him for a cocktail, and drops Holden off at the Edmont Hotel.

The hotel doesn’t do much to lift Holden’s spirits. The bellboy is an old man with a comb-over, "a gorgeous job for a guy around sixty-five years old." (pg. 61) And the other hotel guests, who Holden can see through his window, he dismisses as a bunch of "perverts and losers." Among those he can see are a man dressing up in women’s clothes, and a couple spitting water, in delight, at each other.

Holden does, however, find these strange behaviors fascinating; he thinks that squirting water at a girl might be fun, though he’d feel "crumby" doing it. This speaks to his more general trouble with girls, his trouble reconciling his heart, his body and his head.

"Sometimes I can think of very crumby stuff I wouldn’t mind doing if the opportunity came up. I can even see how it might be quite a lot of fun, in a crumby way, and if you were both sort of drunk and all, to get a girl and squirt water or something all over each other’s face. The thing is, though, I don’t like the idea. It stinks, if you analyze it." Chapter 9, pg. 62

All bound up now, Holden sits down, smokes a few cigarettes, and decides to call Faith Cavendish, a woman a guy from Princeton said "didn’t mind doing it once in a while...." (pg. 63) She’s angry to be bugged by a stranger in the middle of the night, but warms up after a bit. She won’t, however, agree to have drinks with him that night and Holden, who needs some instant satisfaction more than anything else, turns down her offer to meet for drinks the next day. Holden instantly regrets turning her down.

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