Catcher in the Rye Chapters 15 - 17 Summary

On Sunday Morning, Holden wakes up at the Edmont Hotel around ten o'clock. Holden seems to be in pretty good spirits, despite the fact that Maurice, the elevator guy/pimp roughed him up not too many hours ago. Holden thinks about Jane Gallagher for a while but then decides to call Sally. Sally is a girl that Holden "necked" with a lot and is "phony" but very good looking.

He calls Sally and invites her to see a matinee with him that afternoon. Sally agrees. We learn that Sally is also from a wealthy family, because the maid answers the phone. Holden complains about the word "grand" after Sally uses it to express her acceptance of Holden's invitation to the theater. He believes it is one of the most pretentious words in the English language. He almost tells Sally to forget about the Matinee, simply because she used the word "grand".

Holden is a little worried about all the money he has spent. He will need to buy the theater tickets, and he cannot go home until Wednesday. He complains about his careless ways with money and tells us he has always been that way. His father is a corporate lawyer and "really rakes it in" so Holden does not have a true appreciation of money because he has always had it.

Holden checks out of the Edmont and stores his suitcases in a locker at Grand Central Station. He is unclear about where he will spend the next three nights but knows he does not want to risk staying at the hotel and get beat up by some crazed hotel employee/pimp again.

While eating breakfast at a diner, Holden helps two nuns with their suitcases. He notices their suitcases are cheap. He goes on to tell us that he almost "detests" a person if they have cheap luggage. Holden had a roommate once, named Dick Slagle, who had very cheap luggage and even hid it under the bed so that nobody would see it. Holden put his luggage under his bed as well, so Dick would not feel so bad. However, Dick would take Holden's luggage out from under his bed and put it up on the luggage rack so that people would think it was his luggage. Dick also resented Holden for the expensive things he owned. He called Holden's things "Bourgeois" and came to resent him. Here we see that Holden is somewhat spoiled because he takes the fact that he is wealthy for granted. He says, "the thing is it's really hard to be roommates with someone if your suitcases are much better than theirs." He even says it was better to be roommates with Stradlater because he owned expensive luggage, too.

We do see that Holden does express compassion for those who have less than him, by his generosity with the nuns. He gives them ten dollars as a donation and even tries to pay for their breakfast though they refuse.

After Holden leaves the diner, he walks for a while. He calls Jane but her mother answers the phone, and he hangs up. He decides to buy a recording of the song "Little Shirley Beans" with the singer, Estelle Fletcher. He loves the song because though it is a child's song about a little girl who lost her two front teeth, Esther Fletcher sings it in a very guttural manner. He likes it because he feels she is very authentic in her delivery of the song.

While Holden is on his walk, he is very moved by a little boy singing "when a body moves a body coming through the rye." The little boy is only singing for his enjoyment and is unaware of anyone listening to him. The reference to the rye echoes the title of the novel, The Catcher in the Rye. Here we see the theme of the fragility of the dreamer being the little boy singing and Holden being reminded of his little brother, Allie.

Holden sees one of Phoebe's friends playing in the park. He asks her if she has seen his sister, Phoebe. She says no, but mentions that they have a lot of class trips at the Museum of Natural History. Holden reminisces about the timelessness of the displays of frozen moments in history at the Museum. He finds security in the fact that they are unchanging. Again, he would like the idea of being able to freeze and visit the moments of time with the precious moment in his past, especially with Allie.

Holden grudgingly takes a cab to go meet Sally at the Biltmore, though he has lost the mood to see her.

Holden's theater date with Sally makes him tense. He dislikes Sally's phoniness more by the minute. Her displays of chattering annoy him, and it seems she is only putting on a performance for a classmate she meets during intermission. The classmate, George is just as phony as Sally and Holden things they would be a perfect match.

The play stars the Lunts (Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne), a very famous husband, and wife acting team. It tells the story of a couple who seem like they get along but seem fake. Holden thinks the Lunts are good but that they are pandering to the audience, which disgusts him.

After the play, Sally and Holden go ice skating at Radio City. Holden is sick of Sally by this point but likes the way she looks in her little short skating skirt. Holden tries to talk with Sally about how phony and ridiculous the world is, but she seems only to be concerned about finding out if he intends to come over and help her decorate the Christmas tree. He asks her to run away with him to New England and live with him in a cabin in the woods. This idea of Holden's is a very spontaneous but he becomes very passionate about it. When Sally objects to the idea, Holden calls her a "royal pain in the ass," which, effectively, ended their date.

These chapters remind us of how scattered Holden feels after being kicked out of yet another school. It is apparent that he is deeply mourning the loss of his younger brother. Though three years have passed since Allie died, Holden's world view has been altered by this loss. While life has gone on, everything and everyone in it seems to be brutally shallow and superficial, with the exceptions of Jane and Phoebe, that is.

Related Links:

Catcher in the Rye Chapters 18 - 19 Summary
Catcher in the Rye Chapters 20 - 22 Summary
The Catcher in the Rye Summary
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Literature Summaries

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