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Bernice, Marty, and Laverne appear in Chapter 10. They are three girls from Seattle whom Holden meets in the Lavender Room, a lounge in a New York hotel. Holden asks them to dance, and spends some time talking to them. The girls are coarse and rude, interested not in Holden but in looking out for celebrities who might be passing by. Holden is offended by their superficiality and finds them pathetic, yet he cannot help himself from seeking their company, which is consistent with his tendency to act like the very people of whom he disapproves. Bernice, Marty, and Laverne emphasize for Holden the polar opposites of his sister Phoebe. They are crude, dull, and shallow, while she is "pretty and smart...somebody with sense".
J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye tells the story of Holden Caulfield, a well-to-do yet troubled high school student who is in the process of psychologically and emotionally unraveling. As he makes his way home from Pencey (an exclusive prep school) he worries about his parents’ reaction to his expulsion from school.
In chapter ten, Holden has arrived in New York and checked into a hotel. He is bored and stressed and decides to go to the hotel’s lounge, a place called the Lavender Room. The scene that follows characterizes Holden as desperate for attention and acceptance, while at the same time cruelly critical of others.
Upon entering the lounge, he sees three women: Marty, Bernice, and Laverne. His descriptions of the girls, who are really women, show how unkind Holden can be toward others:
At the table right next to me, there were these three girls around thirty or so. The whole three of them were pretty ugly. . .
and then a little later:
I started giving the three witches at the next table the eye again.
Despite his low opinion of the women, he pursues them relentlessly, eventually dancing with all three. After dancing with Bernice, who impresses Holden with her dancing ability, Holden tells the reader:
I was half in love with her by the time we sat down. That’s the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty, even if they’re not much to look at, or even if they’re sort of stupid, you fall in love with them . . .
When the girls finally leave the lounge, Holden is disappointed and lonely.
This scene, like many others in Catcher in the Rye, shows how unstable Holden is. One moment he is insulting the women sitting next to him, and the next he is “half in love” with one of them. Holden will continue to struggle with his aberrant and unpredictable behavior until the end of the novel, when he is hospitalized.
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