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The Catcher in the Rye

by J. D. Salinger

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Compare Holden's attitudes towards Sally and Jane. What can you say about Holden's proposal to Sally "to get the hell out of here"?

Quick answer:

Holden’s attitude towards Sally is contemptuous, whereas his attitude toward Sally is polite. He sees Sally as a phony, despite his being sexually attracted to her. But this doesn’t stop him from suggesting to her that they “get the hell out of here” and go live in Vermont. This shows him to be immature and irresponsible. Holden is much more respectful towards Jane, because sees her as a kindred spirit. She too finds the transition to adulthood very hard.

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It’s fair to say that Holden doesn’t have a lot of time for Sally Hayes. She’s just the latest in a long line of phonies that are the bane of his existence. That doesn’t stop him from spending time with her, though. Say what you like about Sally, but she’s still a very attractive young lady, and Holden’s a young man and so naturally finds himself drawn towards her.

Sally’s alleged phoniness also doesn’t stop Holden from suggesting that they “get the hell out of here” and run off to Vermont to make a new life for themselves. Sally may be somewhat shallow, but she’s clearly much more mature and sensible than Holden. She turns down his crazy idea immediately, insisting that they’re way too young even to think about doing such a thing. Sally’s right, of course, but Holden doesn’t see it that way; after this humiliating episode, she goes even further down in his estimation.

Holden has a completely different attitude towards Jane Gallagher. He respects her for the simple reason that she, like him, is a damaged soul who’s finding it hard to cope with the transition to adulthood. This is largely because of her abusive step-father. Holden respects Jane, and he shows his respect towards her by showing her his late brother’s catcher’s mitt, a privilege he’s never extended to anyone outside his family.

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Holden clearly values and respects Jane Gallagher more than Sally Hayes. Holden tells several intimate stories about Jane Gallagher throughout the novel and continually mentions how he feels like calling her. He recalls how Jane always kept her kings in the back row, mentions their experiences golfing, and also discusses Jane's past struggles with Mr. Cudahy. His attraction to Jane is genuine and is not purely physical like his feelings towards Sally Hayes. Holden views Sally as a superficial phony, which is similar to many people that Holden dislikes. Despite being physically attracted to Sally, Holden does not think she is down-to-earth, sympathetic, or understanding. Holden hates Sally's affinity for the shows and despises her fake conversations with distant associates. At the end of their date, Holden says to Sally that they should "get the hell outta here" and begin a new life together in Vermont. He then elaborates on his desire to leave the city and experience life in the wilderness. Holden's proposal is not thought out and reveals more about his desire to escape reality than it does his affection for Sally. Shortly after Holden rambles about the phoniness of society and his willingness to escape the city, he tells Sally that she is a "royal pain in the ass." Holden then begins to laugh as she cries, which reveals his true feelings about her.

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Holden has a deep respect and admiration for Jane Gallagher, he has an emotional bond with her since they lived near each other in Maine while they both occupied vacation homes.  They lived next door to each other, and Holden became friends with her.

"Jane and I got to be friends and all.  I played golf with her that same afternoon.  She was the only one, outside my family, that I ever showed Allie's baseball mitt to with all the poems written on it." (Salinger)

Jane and Holden bonded over their shared pain, Holden feeling grief over the death of his brother Allie, and Jane struggling within her family with an abusive step-father.  He had romantic feelings for Jane, and felt very comfortable with her.

"Jane was different.  We'd get into a goddam movie or something and right away we'd start holding hands and we wouldn't quit till the movie was over.  With Jane, you never even worried if your hand was sweaty or not." (Salinger)

Apparently, Holden did not keep us his communication with Jane because of feelings of inferiority.  Holden puts Jane on a pedestal, she is a good girl, his dream girl.  Yet, even though he feels deeply for Jane, he doesn't call her.

Holden does not care that much for Sally Hayes, yet he feels less anxious about calling her.  He opts to call Sally when he is in New York, because he is desperate to talk to someone, to see someone that he knows.

When Holden sees Sally coming towards him, he feels very emotional.  He admires her good looks.

"I felt like marrying her the minute I saw her, I'm crazy.  I didn't even like her much and yet all of a sudden I felt like I was in love with her and wanted to marry her.  I swear to God I'm crazy." (Salinger)

Even though Holden is physically attracted to Sally, she does not have the depth of compassion that Jane has though and Holden can't seem to get Sally to understand how he really feels about life.  She gets really frightened and angry at Holden's attitude, and suggestion that they run away.

"Holden asks her to go away with him to Massachusetts or Vermont. She refuses, pointing out that they are much too young to set up housekeeping together and that college and Holden's career come first.  Holden doesn't want to hear about a traditional career. He becomes angry and tells Sally she's a "royal pain in the ass." She "hit the ceiling" and left."


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