The Catcher in the Rye help with homework Chapter 13
- Explain Holden’s confusion about his own assertiveness.
- Why does Holden allow Maurice to send the prostitute to his room? How does Holden excuse his agreeing to meet a prostitute?
- Explain what happens between Holden and the prostitute. What does this scene tell us about Holden?
- What does Holden’s pseudonym indicate about his insecurities?
- What comment shows Holden’s sensitivity to language?
Explain Holden’s confusion about his own assertiveness.
Holden’s confusion about his own assertiveness was that he was confused about using the prostitute to lose his virginity, he then ended up realizing that she wasn’t fit for him and made an excuse just to make her leave. His interactions with the prostitute Sunny are comic as well as touching, partly because they are both adolescents trying to be adults. Although Sunny is the more frightening of the two, neither belongs there.
Why does Holden allow Maurice to send the prostitute to his room? How does Holden excuse his agreeing to meet a prostitute?
When he arrives back at the hotel, Maurice, the elevator man asks if he would like a prostitute. He tells Holden it will be five dollars for a brief encounter and fifteen dollars for a girl who will stay until noon, and Holden, depressed and flustered, accepts. He says he would like the five-dollar deal. While waiting in his room, he again thinks about his cowardice, because he feels that his lack of aggression has prevented him from ever sleeping with a woman. Women, Holden believes, want a man who asserts power and control.
Explain what happens between Holden and the prostitute. What does this scene tell us about Holden?
As Holden broods, the prostitute, Sunny, arrives. She was a cynical young girl with a high voice. Holden becomes flustered, especially so when she removes her dress. She sits on his lap and tries to seduce him, but he is extremely nervous and tells her he is unable to have sex because he is recovering from an operation on his “clavichord.” He finally pays her the five dollars he owes and asks her to leave. She claims that the price is ten, but he refuses to pay her more, and she leaves in a huff.
What he learns with Sunny is that he prefers not to get there with a prostitute. The whole scene is depressing rather than erotic for Holden. He has to get to know a girl, and like her a lot, before he is comfortable with intimacy. One of the likable things about Holden is that, beneath it all, he has some healthy values. In addition, he has mixed feelings toward Sunny. She is very young (about Holden’s age) and seems to be almost as nervous as he is. As Holden describes it, “She crossed her legs and started jiggling this one foot up and down. She was very nervous, for a prostitute. She really was. I think it was because she was young as hell. She was around my age.” Holden is depressed that she is so young leading this kind of life. It saddens him to think of her going to a store to buy the green dress that she has worn for him and that he hangs in the closet so it won’t get “all wrinkly,” as Sunny puts it, in her child-like language.
What does Holden’s pseudonym indicate about his insecurities?
The names, “Sunny” and “Jim Steele,” are ironic; neither name fits the person. Freudian critics delight in analyzing their significance. Remember that Salinger’s boyhood nickname was “Sonny.” What kind of Freudian slip has Salinger made by naming the prostitute “Sunny”? What has he revealed about himself? “Steele,” some critics suggest, is a strained attempt at phallic superiority.
What comment shows Holden’s sensitivity to language?
The Catcher in the Rye, like many other great works, was met by scornful criticism and unyielding admiration. However, many literary critics also marveled at Salinger’s use of language, which was used to make Holden Caulfield, the main character, extremely realistic. Such language includes both repetition of phrases and blatant cursing, in order to capture the informal speech of the average, northeastern American adolescent. Salinger carefully crafted Holden’s vocabulary to create a character who would be believable. As Holden’s vocabulary and outlook on life demonstrate his character as a fictional persona, the realistic flavor of his vocabulary mixed with emotion unfailingly ties him to the harsh realities of adolescence and the youth of his time.