Describe the scene between Holden and Sunny in J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye.  

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The scene between Holden and Sunny is certainly interesting because he is obviously inexperienced with women and doesn't know what to do with a prostitute when he gets her. He's so depressed that he decides that he just wants to talk to her. They realize that they are both around the same age as the other one; however, she is a professional with the opposite sex and knows her own business, and he is out of his league on both counts. 

Sunny gets irritated because Holden won't participate like a regular John. He notices her shaking her foot a lot with impatience. Then he gets annoyed when she sits on his lap and won't get off. Holden was doing a great job lying his way out of the situation until he makes one big mistake: He tells Sunny the following:

"I said I'd pay for you coming and all. I really will. I have plenty of dough. It's just that I'm practically just recovering from a very serious--" (97).

Holden tells a working woman with a pimp that he has a lot of money! That was a big mistake because Sunny then asks for $10 when Maurice, her pimp, said it would only cost Holden $5. They argue about the price for a minute, but Sunny decides to leave and come back with her pimp later, who then roughs him up and gets the $10 from him anyway.

This is a perfect learning experience for Holden in a bildungsroman novel. He is practically innocent of the ways of women, criminal business, and being on his own. A girl from "Hollywood" (95) bests him on all counts and teaches him a big lesson of the street. Holden stands his ground against the bullying pimp, but he doesn't walk away unscathed. This is certainly one scene that teaches a boy about the world of adults.

 

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The Catcher in the Rye

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