The Catcher in the Rye

by: J. D. Salinger

Five Key Questions

Summary Five Key Questions

5) What happens to Holden after his date with Sally Hayes and his meeting with Carl Luce both end badly?

With his only social engagements of the day having gone terribly, Holden’s emotional state begins to unravel quickly. Immediately after Carl leaves him at the Wicker Bar, Holden stays on until one in the morning, getting drunk and flirting with other patrons. He even calls Sally, waking her up in the hopes of making amends for their date. But Holden’s evident inebriation gets a chilly reception from Sally, and he hangs up. Depressed and disconnected as ever, Holden leaves the bar and seeks refuge in Central Park. He goes looking for the lagoon he’s mentioned at various points in the novel, the one whose population of ducks disappears in the winter. Still drunk and unable to navigate in the dark night, Holden struggles to locate the lagoon. When he finds the lagoon, he’s so cold he imagines he’s dying from pneumonia. Holden has an elaborate fantasy about his own funeral. He images how crushed his mother would be, since she hasn’t yet gotten over Allie’s death. Holden’s dark thoughts in this scene indicate his deeply troubled state of mind.