Chapters 8–11 Summary and Analysis
After leaving Pencey, Holden walks to the train station and boards a train. A woman boards the train and sits beside him. She notices his Pencey Prep sticker and explains that she is the mother of one of Holden’s classmates, Ernest Morrow.
Holden lies to the woman about his own name and tells her that her son is very popular at school. In reality, Ernest is “a rat” who is always “snapping his soggy old wet towel at people’s asses” after taking a shower.
Holden enjoys Ernest’s mother and even notices that she has “quite a lot of sex appeal.” They smoke together, but she declines Holden’s invitation to join him for a cocktail. When Mrs. Morrowasks why Holden has left school early, Holden tells her that he needs to go home because he has a brain tumor that needs to be removed. Their conversation trails off, but before she gets off the train Mrs. Morrow invites Holden to visit them over the summer. Holden lies again, saying that he can’t because he will be going to see his grandmother in South America.
Holden gets off the train and goes into a phone booth. He considers various people he could call—his brother D.B., his younger sister Phoebe, a few different friends—but decides against each option. He leaves the phone booth and gets a cab.
Holden annoys the cab driver by giving him the wrong address and by asking about the ducks in Central Park. He invites the driver to join him for a cocktail, but the driver declines. Holden arrives at the Edmont Hotel and checks in.
Holden dislikes the hotel, describing his room as “crumby” and the other patrons as “perverts and morons.” Looking out the window, he sees a man in one of the other rooms dressing as a woman and a couple squirting water at each other.
Holden reflects on his own desires to do “crumby stuff” with girls, and his history of breaking different “sex rules” that he makes for himself. “Sex is something I just don’t understand,” he concludes.
Holden decides to call a number that someone had given him at a party; the number is for Faith Cavendish, a girl that “wasn’t exactly a whore… but that didn’t mind doing it once in a while.”
Although Faith Cavendish is initially irritated by being disturbed so late at night, she becomes friendlier when they discuss their mutual acquaintance. Holden asks if they can meet for a cocktail, and she declines.
Holden decides to change his clothes and go to the Lavender Room, the nightclub in the hotel. He is tempted to call his ten-year-old sister Phoebe, describing her as “pretty” and “smart” and “somebody you always felt like talking to on the phone.” Despite his longing to talk with Phoebe, Holden is afraid that his parents will answer the phone, so he goes to the Lavender Room instead.
Holden dislikes the band that is playing and most of the people in the club. At the table beside him sit three women from Seattle; he initially describes them all as “pretty ugly,” but then decides that the blonde is “sort of cute.”
Holden tries to order alcohol, but the waiter refuses. Holden convinces the three women to dance with him, and he dances with the blonde first. Although he thinks she is a very good dancer and even feels “half in love with her” at moments, he considers her to be “dopey.” Holden dances with the other two women, lies to them about seeing a movie star in the club, and buys them some drinks. The three women leave abruptly, saying they need to get up early to see the first show at Radio City Music Hall. This depresses Holden, and he leaves the nightclub shortly thereafter.
On his way to the hotel lobby, Holden gets “Jane Gallagher on the brain again” and sits down in a chair to think. He recalls how they met and the summer they spent together as neighbors in Maine. Holden knows “old Jane like a book.” Although he wouldn’t describe Jane as “strictly beautiful,” Holden admits his attraction to her. He...
(The entire section is 1,414 words.)