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Free Study Guide-The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger-Free BookNotes
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Chapter 15

Summary

Holden wakes up at around ten o’clock on Sunday morning, surprised not to have slept later. He is about to call room service, but his fear that Maurice will deliver the food makes him change his mind. He also thinks about calling Jane Gallagher, but calls Sally Hayes instead. They make a date for two o’clock that afternoon. He realizes he does not have much money left, so he checks out of the hotel.

Holden takes a taxi to Grand Central Station. He checks his baggage into a locker there and eats breakfast in the cafeteria. Two nuns come and sit near him and he talks to them; one is an English teacher and Holden discusses literature with her. He notices their cheap suitcases, which make him think of Dick Slagle, whom he roomed with at Elkton Hills. Dick, like the nuns, had very cheap luggage, which he hid in shame under his bed. Holden had very nice, very expensive luggage that he at first kept on the racks for everyone to see. Out of concern for Slagle, Holden decided to put his luggage under his bed, too. Slagle took Holden’s luggage from under the bed and pretended it was his. The memory of this incident really bothers Holden, and he is not sure why; he thinks it has something to do with inequality and hypocrisy, two things he hates.

While they are eating, Holden decides to give the nuns a contribution of ten dollars despite the fact that he is low on funds. He even offers to pay their bill, but they refuse. After they leave, Holden wishes he had given them more than ten dollars.

Notes

Holden goes to Grand Central Station, the main transportation center in New York. Most people pass through Grand Central Station on their way to some other place, but Holden selects it as his destination. Since he does not seem to belong anywhere, it seems like the perfect place to go; no one else belongs there either.


Holden goes to the cafeteria at the station to have breakfast. When two nuns come in and sit by him, he strikes up a conversation with them. When he learns one is an English teacher, he discusses Romeo and Juliet with her. While they are eating, Holden notices their cheap suitcases and decides to give them ten dollars, even though he has little money left. He also offers to pay for their food, but the nuns will not let him. After they leave, Holden wishes he had given them more money.

The entire incident with the nuns brings out a new characteristic in Holden. He openly identifies with an underdog. The people on the margins, like himself, are a source of concern and sympathy for him. He is touched by the poverty of the nuns and their cheap suitcases and gives them ten dollars, even though he is not a religious boy. When he discusses Romeo and Juliet with the nun, Holden’s sympathy is for Mercutio, a minor character and underdog in the play. Holden also remembers Dick Slagle, his Elton Hills roommate who had shabby suitcases. In order not to embarrass him with his expensive suitcases, Holden generously hides his own under his bed. Everything about Holden seem to cry out against inequality, injustice, and hypocrisy, even when he is just having a polite conversation in a train station with a nun.

It is important to notice that Holden’s cowardice is again depicted in this chapter. He will not call for room service because he is afraid that Maurice might bring him the food. He wants to call Jane, but does not have enough courage to dial her number. His generosity is also shown. Although he cannot afford it, he gives the nuns ten dollars; after they leave, he wished he had given more.

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