The Catcher in the Rye | Study Guide

J. D. Salinger

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Chapter 13

Course Hero's video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of chapter 13 of J.D. Salinger's novel The Catcher in the Rye.

The Catcher in the Rye | Chapter 13 | Summary



Holden walks to the hotel, wearing his red hat. He notices that the hotel lobby smells like cigar smoke. The elevator attendant offers to send a woman to Holden's room. Holden agrees, too depressed to argue. He had read in a book that "a woman's body is like a violin" that only a "terrific musician" can play right. The comparison intimidates Holden.

Holden trips over a suitcase when the prostitute, Sunny, knocks. Sunny scoffs at the idea that Holden is 22 but pulls her dress off anyway. Embarrassed, Holden asks Sunny if she has time to talk. Holden admits that he prefers not to have sex but would pay her, and he makes up a quick excuse: he'd just had an operation on his "clavichord." Sunny sits in his lap and talks dirty, making Holden more nervous. Irritated, Sunny demands 10 dollars to leave. Holden gives her five.


Holden has one foot in the world of his childhood and the other in the unexplored adult realm. This chapter points out the contrast painfully.

  • Holden brags, in typical adolescent fashion, that he has a great capacity to drink. Once, he says, he drank heavily and did not show it. He even had to force himself to vomit.
  • Holden also brags that he has had many chances to lose his virginity but hasn't because he respects girls so much. Yet he steels himself for Sunny's arrival by saying that he just wanted practice in case he were to marry.

The chapters that cover the nights Holden spends in New York City are full of sensory details. Holden rides in cabs that smell of vomit, sits at tables in smoky clubs, and rents but hardly sleeps in a stale, run-down hotel room. The setting plays into his penchant for exaggeration, but that exaggeration reflects Holden's mindset as he moves from one site to another, depressed, isolated, and just trying to get through the night.

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