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Chapter 17 and 18

Chapter 17

Waiting for Sally, he sees a lot of girls around, and feels depressed that most will marry boring men. Then he amends that, remembering one roommate he had who, though boring, could whistle well, and decides that there might be compensations for marrying a boring man. He and Sally get a cab to the show, and they kiss several times in the cab. Holden declares his love for her, half seriously.

During intermission, Sally spots someone she recognizes in the lobby, and Holden judges their conversation together to be the phoniest conversation he's ever heard. Sally and the boy continue their conversation during the second intermission, and it's clear that Holden's disapproval of their conversation is based at least in part on jealousy that Sally's not talking with him. By the end of this time Holden concludes that he now dislikes Sally.

Sally suggests that she and Holden go skating at Radio City Music Hall. She rents a tiny skating skirt to wear, and Holden thinks that the excuse of wearing a short skirt was probably the reason Sally wanted to come - both are bad skaters. After skating a while, they sit at a table beside the rink and have cokes. Holden confides in Sally that he is fed up with New York City, fed up with prep schools, and fed up with all the phonies that populate both. He suggests that they borrow a car, drive up into New England, get married and find some place to live next to a little brook. Sally, who for all her complaining loves New York, her school, and the people Holden identifies as phonies, rejects this as utterly "fantastic." She suggests that they could do all that after college, but Holden tries in vain to explain how they'd then have responsibilities, etc. Frustrated, Holden calls her a pain in the ass, at which she bursts into tears. He apologizes profusely, then eventually leaves her there at the rink. He concludes that the worst part is that he probably wouldn't have eloped with her if she had agreed, but that at the moment he really meant it all the same.

Chapter 18

Holden has a sandwich at a lunch counter, and considers calling Jane's again. He thinks back to a guy she dated before he really knew her, and wonders why a nice girl would date "some guy that's strictly a bastard." She tells Holden that he simply has an inferiority complex, but Holden doesn't see how this excuses him. He had a friend who really did have an inferiority complex, he explains, and a girl dumped him for being conceited. He concludes that girls simply use this idea of an inferiority complex as an excuse to justify liking someone, "no matter how big a bastard he is."

No one answers at Jane's, so Holden calls a former classmate. The classmate, Carl Luce, went to Whooton with Holden, and agrees to meet him for drinks at ten, although Holden had once called him a phony. To kill time, Holden goes to Radio City Music Hall and sees the Christmas show and a movie, both of which he judges to be phony.

Holden begins to walk towards the bar at which he's meeting Carl, and thinks about his brother on the way. D.B. participated in World War II, and D.B. had said that he hated the Army and the war. When Allie asked him if it wasn't good as a writer to have such experiences, D.B. says that Emily Dickinson was a better war poet than Rupert Brooke (even though Emily Dickinson never came near a war). Holden didn't understand why D.B. could hate war but like A Farewell to Arms, a book by Hemingway about the war. D.B. simply says that he's too young to understand.

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4 and 5
Chapter 6 and 7
Chapter 8 and 9
Chapter 10 and 11
Chapter 12 and 13
Chapter 14 and 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17 and 18
Chapter 19 and 20
Chapter 21 and 22
Chapter 23 and 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26


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