In J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, what does Holden notice when he arrives at the theater? 

In J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, what does Holden notice when he arrives at the theater?


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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the beginning of Chapter 17, Holden is waiting at the Biltmore for his date, Sally Hayes, to show up. While waiting in the lobby, Holden notices all of the women who are there; and of course, he has to catalog and criticize them. Most of them are girls his age who have just been released from school for the holidays. Holden mostly notices the women's legs, though. He notices if they are nice or not; if they are crossed or not; and if the women themselves would be "swell" or not. Then his thoughts take him to where these women might be in a few years. This prompts Holden to think of the types of "dopey" men they will marry, which disappoints him.

Once Sally Hayes comes, Holden notices her dress, her hair, and how wonderful she looks. They get into a cab and make-out on the way to the theater. Because Holden is making out with Sally, he doesn't really notice the theater when he arrives. His narration goes from the cab directly to Holden discussing how "crappy" the show is. It isn't until the intermission, when they go into the theater's lobby for a break, that Holden notices people smoking and acting "phony."

"At the end of the first act we went out with all the other jerks for a cigarette. What a deal that was. You never saw so many phonies in all your life, everybody smoking their ears off and talking about the play so that everybody could hear and know how sharp they were" (126).

It is out in the lobby that Sally meets a friend named George, who comes over and talks to her. Holden doesn't appreciate listening to their "phony" conversation, either. 

In conclusion, there isn't something specific that Holden notices right when he arrives at the theater because the narration goes from what is happening in the cab straight to his opinion about the show. However, Holden does notice women's legs at the Biltmore while waiting for Sally before going to the theater. Then, while at the theater, Holden notices people's phony conversations with each other, which disgust him. 

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The Catcher in the Rye

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