Where can I find the quote in The Catcher in the Rye about how Holden's mother was affected by Allie's death?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Holden mentions his mother's hysteria and nervous, fragile state several times. It is sometimes clear that this condition relates to her difficulty in recovering from his brother Allie's death.

Before he leaves Pencey (chapter 7), he worries about the notification letter reaching his parents. "I didn't want to be...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Holden mentions his mother's hysteria and nervous, fragile state several times. It is sometimes clear that this condition relates to her difficulty in recovering from his brother Allie's death.

Before he leaves Pencey (chapter 7), he worries about the notification letter reaching his parents. "I didn't want to be around when they first got it. My mother gets very hysterical."

In chapter 15, he explicitly connects this to her reactions to Allie's death. His banker father invests in plays that invariably flop, "and it drives my mother crazy when he does it. She hasn't felt too healthy since my brother Allie died. She's very nervous."

Finally, in chapter 20 there is another place where he specifically says his mother "still isn't over my brother Allie yet." That makes him sorry for his parents.

Later in Chapter 25, he again calls her nervous, even into the future. When he contemplates leaving for years and coming back, he says "I knew my mother'd get nervous as hell," and imagines her crying while imploring him to stay home.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There are two direct quotations that mention his mother's condition regarding Allie's death, and one that implies it.

In chapter 15, after Holden makes his date with Sally Hayes, he talks about how irresponsible he is with money.  He then launches into the topic of his father's wealth, and how he's "always investing money in Broadway shows," and that this "drives his mother crazy." At this point, he reveals that his mother "hasn't felt too healthy since [his] brother Allie died. She's very nervous."

Then, in chapter 20, after getting drunk and visiting the Central Park lagoon, Holden fears that he's going to catch "pneumonia and die," and this inspires him to say, "I felt sorry as hell for my mother and father. Especially my mother, because she still isn't over my brother Allie yet."

He goes on to explain that his parents go to the cemetery "quite frequently" to "stick a bunch of flowers on old Allie's grave," further indicating that his mother is still grieving over his younger brother's death.

 

 

 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team