In J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, what causes Holden to almost “neck” with Jane?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chapter 11 is where Holden discusses Jane Gallagher the most. He talks about what a great figure she has and how good looking she is, but his mother doesn't think that Jane is pretty. He likes her even if his mother doesn't think she is cute, though.

The situation surrounding "the only time old Jane and I ever got close to necking" deals with Jane's step-father (78). Holden and Jane are sitting out on her screened-in porch playing checkers. Mr. Cudahy, the step-dad, comes out and asks Jane where the cigarettes are, and she doesn't answer him. Jane never discloses what the issue is with her step-dad, but Holden asks her if he ever "got wise" with her. Jane starts to cry and Holden jumps to the rescue by sitting next to her and kissing her all over her face. It's ironic, though. Here he is asking if her step-dad has tried anything physical with her, and in her despair, Holden tries to comfort/get physical with her! 

". . . the next thing I knew, I was kissing her all over--anywhere--her eyes, her nose, her forehead, her eyebrows and all, her ears--her whole face except her mouth and all. She sort of wouldn't let me get to her mouth" (79).

Since Jane just sits there and takes his kisses and won't let him kiss her on the mouth, Holden declares it "close to necking." 

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The Catcher in the Rye

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