What does Holden think of the three women he meets in the Lavender Room in The Catcher in the Rye?

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mlsldy3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Holden is drifting farther and farther into mental illness. He feels completely isolated from other people. He longs for human interaction and considers calling his sister Phoebe, who is 10, and in Holden's mind, is the only person who hasn't disappointed him yet. 

"While I was changing my shirt, I damn near gave my kid sister Phoebe a buzz, though. I certainly felt like talking to her on the phone. Somebody with a sense and all. But I couldn't take a chance on giving her a buzz, because she was only a little kid and she wouldn't have been up, let alone anywhere near the phone. I thought of maybe hanging up if my parents answered, but that wouldn't've worked, either. They'd know it was me. My mother always knows it's me. She's psychic. But I certainly wouldn't have minded shooting the crap with old Phoebe for a while." 

Holden decides to go to the Lavender Room and tries to buy a drink, but is carded and settles on a coke. He is trying to act older than he is, and fit in, even though he dislikes the people. He meets the three women, who are tourists, and strikes up a conversation with them. He doesn't like two of them, but somewhat enjoys the company of one. However, as with everything else in his life, he gets disgusted with the women. He thinks they are superficial and don't care about anything important. He ends getting stuck with the check for all of them, which deepens his dislike for society.

rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The best way to describe his thoughts about the three girls he meets is "contempt." Holden claims that he is not all that interested in two of the girls, who he describes as "pretty ugly." Only one, a blonde woman, is "sort of cute." After the blonde woman dances with him, and tells him how impressed she was by seeing the actor Peter Lorre in person, he believes that she is "really a moron," though he is obviously attracted to her, and impressed by her dancing. He is highly dismissive of the intellectual abilities of the women, who he describes as "depressing." It is clear, though, that he primarily resents the fact that he, because of his age, seems to be a joke to them. This is a crucial tension in this chapter: Holden views the women and others in the bar as superficial and shallow, yet he tries to impress them by acting, in many ways, like the other bar patrons are acting.

Source: J.D Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye (New York: Bantam Books, 1965).

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The Catcher in the Rye

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