Chapters 12–15 Summary and Analysis
Holden takes a cab and, looking out the window, describes how “lonesome” it is in New York late at night. He asks the cab driver, Horwitz, where the ducks in Central Park go in the winter. Horwitz is impatient with Holden’s questions, but they discuss where the fish and the ducks go when the lake in Central Park is iced over in winter. Holden asks Horwitz to have a drink with him somewhere, but Horwitz declines.
Ernie’s club is full of people. When Holden arrives, Ernie is playing the piano. Holden is annoyed by Ernie’s “show-offy” playing and becomes depressed by the cheering crowd. He considers leaving, but decides to stay because he doesn’t want to be alone.
Holden eavesdrops on the people around him, including an “Ivy League bastard” who is telling his date about a boy in his dorm who committed suicide while also “giving her a feel under the table.”
Holden begins to feel alone and asks the waiter to ask Ernie to join him for a drink.
Suddenly, Holden is greeted by Lillian Simmons, a girl that used to date Holden’s older brother, D.B. Lillian, whom Holden describes as “strictly a phony,” asks about D.B.’s life in Hollywood. Lillian introduces Holden to “the Navy guy” she is with and asks Holden to join them. He declines, saying that he was just about to leave. After lying to Lillian, Holden feels that he has no choice but to leave.
Walking back to the hotel, Holden puts on his hunting hat and wishes that he knew who’d “swiped” his gloves at Pencey. He admits that even if he did know, he wouldn’t have done very much about it. Holden describes himself as “yellow” and imagines the scene if he had confronted the person who stole his gloves.
Holden reflects that part of his “yellowness” is the fact that he doesn’t mind when he loses things. Another part of it is that he hates fist fights; in a fist fight, he “can’t stand looking at the other guy’s face.”
Holden feels depressed, so he decides to have a drink somewhere. He starts to go into a bar but then decides to go back to the hotel.
The empty lobby depresses Holden to the point that “[he] almost wished [he] was dead.” The elevator attendant, Maurice, offers to send a prostitute to Holden’s room. Without thinking, Holden agrees.
In his hotel room, Holden prepares for the prostitute’s arrival and admits that he is a virgin. Despite having had different opportunities to lose his virginity, Holden says his problem is that, unlike “most guys,” he actually stops when a girl tells him to stop. Holden decides that having sex with a prostitute might be a good chance to “practice” sexually.
The prostitute seems nervous and appears to be around the same age as Holden. She takes off her dress, but instead of feeling aroused, Holden feels depressed.
Holden asks the prostitute, Sunny, if she wants to talk for a while. Holden tries to maintain a conversation and then admits that he doesn’t want to have sex but is still willing to pay her. Sunny tries to seduce him, but Holden lies, claiming that he is recovering from an operation. When Holden pays her the agreed amount of five dollars, Sunny argues that it is actually ten, but Holden refuses to pay more than five.
Sunny coldly puts her dress back on and leaves.
After Sunny leaves, Holden notices that the sun is beginning to come up. He feels very depressed, and begins to talk to his brother Allie. He remembers a time when he refused to let Allie join him and his friend Bobby on their bikes. Even though Allie “didn’t get sore about it,” the incident keeps returning to Holden’s mind.
Holden feels like praying, but he can’t because he is “sort of an atheist.” While he likes Jesus, he dislikes Jesus’s disciples and most ministers. Holden recalls how he used to argue with a classmate about whether or not Judas would have been sent to hell after he committed suicide.
Holden hears a knock on his hotel room door. He opens it to find...
(The entire section is 1,544 words.)