The Catcher in the Rye | Study Guide

J. D. Salinger

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Chapter 14

Course Hero's video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of chapter 14 of J.D. Salinger's novel The Catcher in the Rye.

The Catcher in the Rye | Chapter 14 | Summary

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Summary

Feeling depressed, Holden lies in bed and smokes as dawn draws near. At such times he talks to Allie, telling Allie to get his bike and meet him at Billy Fallon's house. When they lived in Maine, Holden and Billy had excluded Allie from a trip to the lake; now Holden soothes his nerves by inviting his little brother to come along.

Someone knocks on Holden's door; it is Maurice and Sunny, demanding five dollars from him. Holden threatens to yell for help, but Sunny takes the extra five from Holden's wallet and Maurice punches him in the stomach. He and Sunny leave. Breath knocked out of him, Holden comforts himself by fantasizing that Maurice has shot him in the gut. In his fantasy he follows Maurice and shoots him six times, and then Jane tends to his own wound as he smokes. In reality Holden falls back in bed and finally sleeps after his harrowing night.

Analysis

Holden is terribly vulnerable during the disturbing events that happen in the dead of night, a time symbolically associated with danger.

  • Physical threats: Maurice presents a real danger to Holden. His bored approach to violence makes him even more menacing. Holden is 16, alone, exhausted, depressed—and dressed only in his pajamas.
  • Emotional threats: Holden is lonely during the predawn hours in the hotel room. He speaks to Allie and wishes he could seek comfort in prayer. He finally finds comfort in a fantasy of revenge, falling back on narrative to exert control over his life.
  • Psychological threats: Holden is depressed. He considers "jumping out the window" but can't stand the thought of "a bunch of stupid rubbernecks looking at me when I was all gory." Holden has claimed to be in treatment in California for tuberculosis and exhaustion, not depression. Yet his inability to commit to school or friends, disturbed sleep patterns, and bleak attitude are characteristic of depression.

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