Chapter 16 from J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye begins right after Holden has breakfast and talking with a couple of Nuns. It's about noon and he has two hours until he meets Sally Hayes for their date. As he's walking towards Broadway, he sees a family that seems to have been coming from church. He hears the boy humming the song "If a body catch a body coming through the rye" and that gets him feeling better (115). He later tells his sister that he wants to catch little children running through the rye before they fall off a cliff. This is symbolic because it's as if Holden wants to catch children before they experience the horrible disappointments of becoming an adult; and of course, this scene points to the title of the book and its main theme.
Next, Holden notices everyone wanting to go to the movies, which he doesn't like, so he goes over to a music store to hang out for awhile. He then thinks of giving Jane a call. When he actually does call, her mother answers and he hangs up because he doesn't like talking to girls' mothers. Then he goes to choose a movie for him and Sally to watch and he chooses one she might like, but in the process, he calls her "queen of the phonies" (116). He thinks all actors are phonies, too, such as Sir Lawrence Olivier in Hamlet.
He goes on to say how his big brother D.B. took him to see the movie Hamlet but Holden didn't think the actor did a good job portraying the lead role. Holden explains:
"The trouble with me is, I always have to read that stuff by myself. If an actor acts it out, I hardly listen. I keep worrying about whether he's going to do something phony every minute" (117).
Then Holden goes to the park and thinks about his sister. He talks to a girl who happens to know his sister and tells him she might be at the museum. He tells her it is Sunday and she realizes her mistake; but this conversation motivates him to go visit the Museum of Natural History.
While walking to the museum he thinks about Gertrude Levine, a girl whose hand he had to hold while on field trips to the museum, and it was always sticky. Once he gets to the museum, he puts on his hunting hat and decides not to go in. He remembers his date with Sally and heads towards the Biltmore to meet her.
While waiting for Sally at the beginning of chapter 17, Holden notices all of the girls and then thinks that most of them would marry "dopey guys" (123). Then he thinks of Harris Macklin, a good whistler from Elkton Hills, who was intelligent, but boring. Then Sally shows up and their date begins.
Sally and Holden take a cab and they make-out in the back. This is when he tells her he loves her and she returns the sentiment. He discusses phony actors again and phonies at Ernie's. Then he gets jealous because Sally meets a good-looking guy and socializes with him. He almost takes her home because he's so jealous but she mentions ice skating so they go do that for awhile.
Eventually, Holden has an episode and asks her to run away with him. He says that they'll eventually get married, but they'll play until his money runs out and then he'll get a job and settle down. Sally tells him nicely that they are still kids and shouldn't do anything crazy. Holden's response is the following:
"C'mon, let's get outa here, . . . You give me a royal pain in the ass, if you want to now the truth" (133).
Sally won't put up with being treated that way, so she cries and leaves him, even though he tries to apologize.
Finally, in chapter 18, Holden thinks about Jane again and a guy she dated named Al Pike. He muses that Jane said Al was nice, but he had an inferiority complex. He tries to call Jane again, but no one answers. So he calls Carl Luce, an older buddy from Whooton School, and sets up a meeting at the Wicker Bar at ten o'clock. He kills the time before the meeting by seeing the Rockettes' Christmas show, which makes him think about believing in God and his dead brother Allie. He then watches a war movie that he hates, but it gets him thinking about the war and how his older brother D.B. had been in the army for four years. D.B. was actually a part of D-Day, too. Holden says, "I really think he hated the Army worse than the war" (140).
Holden remembers that D.B. got him to read A Farewell to Arms because he said it was a great book. Holden, like always, says that it and The Great Gatsby were full of phonies. It is interesting, though, that Holden speaks of literature, but then all of a sudden says the following:
"I'm sort of glad they've got the atomic bomb invented. If there's ever another war, I'm going to sit right the hell on top of it. I'll volunteer for it, I swear to God I will" (141).