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Free Study Guide-The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger-Free BookNotes
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Chapter 10

Summary

Still desperate for connection, Holden contemplates calling his younger sister Phoebe, but changes his mind because his parents would be most likely to answer the phone. Since he is not tired, he decides to go to the Lavender Room, the nightclub at the hotel. He washes up, changes into a clean shirt, and heads downstairs. In the club, Holden is given a bad table, and the waiter refuses to serve him alcohol without an I. D. Three women are seated at the next table, and Holden summons up the courage to ask if any of them would care to dance. He eventually dances with all three and pays for their drinks. When they get up to leave, he tries unsuccessfully to convince them to stay, even though they are not interesting company. Shortly after they depart, Holden leaves as well.


Notes

Holden’s need for human contact is again underscored in this chapter. He first thinks of calling Phoebe, his younger sister whom he adores. He never feels threatened by her, for "if you tell old Phoebe something, she knows exactly what the hell you’re talking about. I mean you can even take her anywhere with you." It is significant to note that Phoebe is only ten years old, and yet Holden feels greater companionship with her than anyone else in the book; she is too young to judge Holden, but lovingly accepts him as he is. Holden is looking for the same kind of acceptance throughout life.

Since he fears one of his parents will answer the phone, Holden does not try to reach Phoebe. Instead, he goes down to the nightclub in the hotel. Even here he is made to feel rejected, for he is seated at a bad table and not allowed to order an alcoholic drink. His attempt to engage the three girls in conversation and dancing is another attempt on Holden’s part to connect with humanity. Although they show no interest in Holden, they dance with him and expect him to pay their bill. In the end, however, they too desert Holden, leaving him once again terribly alone and depressed.

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