The Catcher in the Rye | Study Guide

J. D. Salinger

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Chapter 10

Course Hero's video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of chapter 10 of J.D. Salinger's novel The Catcher in the Rye.

The Catcher in the Rye | Chapter 10 | Summary

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Summary

Holden changes clothes and heads to the hotel's club, the Lavender Room. He wants to call his sister, Phoebe, but knows his parents would answer. Holden interrupts his story to describe Phoebe, a smart, redheaded 10-year-old. Like D.B., Phoebe writes stories, but she never finishes them.

At the club Holden listens to a bad band and tries to persuade the waiter to sell him alcohol. Three women in their 30s sit at a nearby table. One woman agrees to dance with him; the other two watch and laugh.

Afterward Holden sits at the table with the women—Bernice, Marty, and Laverne—and gives his name as Jim Steele. The women are from Seattle and hope to see movie stars in New York. When the check comes, the women don't offer to pay, but Holden forgives them as foolishly excited out-of-towners.

Analysis

Holden's assessment of the adults in the Lavender Room is grim. The men there are "mostly old, show-offy-looking guys"; the women from Seattle are ignorant; Marty is old; and Laverne is ugly. Their hats mark them as tourists, and they drink the wrong drinks. Holden sounds critical, exclusive, and superior—the very traits he despises in the headmaster who prefers attractive parents.

There are several reasons why Holden judges these people in such a shallow, unkind manner. He is trying on adult roles as he understands them. Adults seem to divide people into "in" and "out" groups. The women from Seattle are embarrassingly not from New York City. He is also painfully aware that he is a 16-year-old among seasoned adults and is overacting defensively.

Holden struggles in this chapter to find his identity. He has abandoned his peers, but he is not yet a peer of the adults. His emerging sexual desires draw him to settings inappropriate for his age.

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