The Catcher in the Rye

J. D. Salinger

Chapters 10–12

Summary Chapters 10–12

Through his nostalgic memories of Jane, we gain insight into the type of companionship Holden wants. He mentions that he knew he was happy when he was with Jane—this is a certitude that he is lacking at the present moment. His memories of Jane are especially touching because he describes a very deep emotional connection. Additionally, their moments of intimacy were subtle and extremely personal, free of any sort of posturing or phoniness.

The key moment of Jane and Holden’s relationship bears a curious resemblance to Holden’s present situation. After her stepfather’s intrusion, Jane is overwhelmed by a pain she cannot articulate, a deep sadness that she cannot put into words. Holden, full of silent compassion and understanding, knows what to do to help her through hard times. Now, he finds himself in a similar situation, struggling with a pain that he can’t talk about with anyone in the book, including the reader. He desperately needs the same deep, compassionate connection he says he once experienced with Jane.

Holden’s self-delusion and unreliability as a narrator continue to grow. When he enters the Lavender Room, he depicts himself as a wise-beyond-his-years, debonair playboy. But because the waiter refuses to serve him alcohol, and because the girls laugh at his advances, we doubt that Holden’s self-description is accurate. Holden rationalizes the girls’ dismissal of him by saying that they are silly tourist hicks. Although there does seem to be a bit of provincialism in their character, it’s fairly clear that the girls are amused by the situation and that they indulge Holden in his flirtation out of pity combined with a touch of mockery. Holden likes to imagine that he is a mature individual who perceptively sees all the hidden details around him, but in actuality he’s just a kid. Once again, Holden’s inability to understand the world around him—or, perhaps, his unwillingness to acknowledge the world around him—reveals his profound disconnection and isolation.