Catcher In The Rye, Act II, Part III

JD_SalingerDespite a bit of a break, I’m still plugging away on Catcher. The next section wanders into some depressing territory that’s a bit hard to convey on-screen. There’s a lot of wandering around, indecision, memories, etc., which is a big point of the book and illustrates Holden’s state of mind, but translating this to the screen can be a challenge.

When I left off with Act II, Part II, Holden had just had the uncomfortable encounter with the young prostitute, Sunny. He sent her away without having sex with her but paid her the $5 her pimp, Maurice, said was the price of “a throw.” I really don’t like that terminology. Quite icky.


Holden sits in the room’s one easy chair, smoking. He finishes one cigarette and immediately lights another. He covers his eyes with his free hand.

HOLDEN (muttering): OK, Allie, OK. Just go get your bike. Go get your bike and meet me in front of Bobby’s house. Hurry up.

He smokes.

HOLDEN: Hurry up, Allie.

He crushes out the cigarette, stands up and strips off his pants and shirt. He climbs into the bed wearing his boxers.


Holden lies in bed, the sheets torn off and twisted around him, and stares at the ceiling. Outside, the sun is coming up.

There is a KNOCK at the door. Holden sits up and watches the door. Someone KNOCKS again and RATTLES the doorknob.

HOLDEN: Who’s there?


Holden gets out of bed and yanks the door open.

HOLDEN: What’s the matter? Wuddaya want?

Maurice pushes his way in the room.

MAURICE: Nothin’ much. Just five bucks.

Sunny appears in the doorway and follows Maurice into the room. She settles in the window seat.

HOLDEN: I paid her already. Ask her.

MAURICE: It’s ten bucks, chief. I tole ya that. Ten bucks for a throw, fifteen bucks til noon. I tole ya that.

HOLDEN: You did not. You said five bucks for a throw. I heard you–

Maurice steps to Holden and shoves him in the chest. Holden stumbles back, just saving himself from landing on his ass. Maurice goes around him and settles in the easy chair.

MAURICE: OK, chief, let’s have it. I gotta go back to work.

HOLDEN: I told you about ten times, I don’t owe you a cent. I already gave her five–

MAURICE: Cut the crap.

HOLDEN (voice cracking): You’re trying to chisel me.

Maurice unbuttons his uniform jacket to reveal that he’s not wearing anything underneath. His fat, hairy stomach pushes out over his belt.

MAURICE: Let’s have it, chief.


Maurice gets up from the chair and gets in Holden’s face.

MAURICE: Let’s have it, chief. Let’s have it.


MAURICE: Chief, you’re gonna force me inna roughin’ you up. I don’t wanna do it but that’s the way it’s startin’ to look. You owe us five bucks.

HOLDEN: If you rough me up, I’ll yell like hell and wake everybody up in the hotel.

MAURICE: Go ahead. Yell your head off. Want your parents to know you spent the night with a whore? High-class kid like you?

Maurice advances on Holden, backing him up until Holden is up against the door.

HOLDEN: Leave me alone. Get the hell out of my room.

Sunny jumps up from where she’s sitting and goes over the dresser. She picks up Holden’s wallet.

SUNNY: I got it, Maurice.

She takes out a five-dollar bill and waves it at Holden.

SUNNY (CONT.): See? All I’m takin’ is the five you owe me. I’m no crook.

Holden starts to cry. He covers his eyes so they can’t see.

HOLDEN: No, you’re crooks. You’re stealing five–

MAURICE: Shut up.

He shoves Holden.

SUNNY: Leave him alone, hey. C’mon. We got the dough–

MAURICE: Who’s hurtin’ anybody?

He reaches out and SNAPS his finger very hard on Holden’s balls. Holden doubles up.

HOLDEN: You dirty goddamn moron. You stupid, chiseling moron. In about two years you’ll be one of those scraggy guys that come up to you on the street and ask for a dime for coffee. you’ll have snot all over your dirty, filthy overcoat and you’ll be–

Maurice punches Holden in the stomach and Holden falls to the floor. Sunny and Maurice step over him, go out the door and shut it.


Holden sits in a hot bath, crying and smoking a cigarette.


Holden sits, scrubbed and dressed, in the easy chair. He stares at the phone. Suddenly, he leans forward, picks it up and dials.

HOLDEN (on the phone): Sally? This is Holden Caulfield. How are ya?

SALLY (O.S.):  Holden! I’m fine! How are you?

HOLDEN: Swell. Listen, how are ya? How’s school? I was wondering if you’re busy today. I mean, I know it’s Sunday but there’s always one or two matinees. Benefits and that stuff. Would you care to go?

SALLY (O.S.): I’d love to. Grand.

HOLDEN: Yeah? So, how are you?

SALLY (O.S.): Well, you know. There’s this guy from Harvard. He’s really putting the pressure on me, you know. He calls me up night and day. But I don’t know because, you know, there’s this other fellow from West Point–

HOLDEN: Oh, swell. Listen, I’ve gotta run but why don’t we meet under the clock at the Biltmore at two?

SALLY (O.S.): Sure, I guess so–

Holden hangs up the phone and sighs. He sinks into the easy chair.


Holden walks along Broadway behind a family – FATHER, MOTHER and a BOY, 6 – dressed for church. The boy walks in the street next to the curb while the parents walk on the sidewalk, talking to each other.

The boy puts his arms straight out from his sides and tries to walk a very straight line

BOY (singing): If a body catch a body coming through the rye–

Cars zoom by the boy. Brakes SCREECH.

BOY (singing): If a body kiss a body, need a body cry–

Holden smiles at the boy as, to his right, he sees a record store and crosses to the front door of the shop.


Holden hands a CLERK behind a counter a record.

CLERK: Five dollars.

HOLDEN: Five dollars?

CLERK: That’s hard to find. What? You don’t want it now?

HOLDEN: No, no, no. Of course I want it.

He gets five dollars out of his wallet.



Holden stands at the edge of the mall holding his record and surveying the scene. Five girls roller skate in circles and two boys tossing a softball back and forth.

He sees a girl, JANICE, 10, wearing jeans and three sweaters piled on on top of the other, sitting on a park bench and walks over to her.


Holden sits next to the girl, 10, on the park bench.

HOLDEN: You know Phoebe Caulfield?


HOLDEN: Phoebe Caulfield. She lives on Seventy-first Street. She’s in 4th grade, over at–

JANICE: You know Phoebe?

HOLDEN: Yeah, I’m her brother. You know where she is?

JANICE: She’s in Miss Callon’s class, isn’t she?

HOLDEN: I don’t know. Yes, I think she is.

JANICE: She’s probably in the museum, then. We went last Saturday.

HOLDEN: Which museum?

JANICE: I don’t know. The museum.

HOLDEN: The one where the pictures are, or the one where the Indians are?

JANICE: The one where the Indians are.

HOLDEN: Thanks a lot.

He gets up to leave, then stops.

HOLDEN: This is Sunday.

JANICE: Oh. Then she isn’t.

She struggles to tighten her roller skate with a skate key. Holden leans down, takes the key from her and tightens it for her.



Holden stands in front of the museum wearing his orange hunting hat. He stares at the building, then turns to leave.



Holden sits on a leather couch underneath the lobby clock and watches women home from school for the holiday cross back and forth.

Suddenly, SALLY HAYES, 16, a stunning blond wearing a black beret and coat, comes up the stairs and into the lobby. Holden jumps off the couch and breaks into a grin.

SALLY: Holden! It’s marvelous to see you! It’s been ages.

HOLDEN: Swell to see you. How are ya?

SALLY: Absolutely marvelous. Am I late?

He takes her by the arm and leads her back down the stairs.


Holden and Sally make out in the back of the cab. The cab stops short and Holden nearly flies off the backseat. Sally giggles. She takes a compact out of her purse and tries to check her make-up but Holden pushes her hand down and gives her a deep, long kiss.

HOLDEN: I love you.

SALLY: Oh, darling, I love you, too. Promise me you’ll let your hair grow. Crew cuts are getting so corny. And your hair is so lovely.

He runs his hands through his hair and settles back in his seat.


Holden and Sally sit in a packed theater. Sally is riveted by the action onstage. Holden leans back in his seat and studying the ceiling.

The audience LAUGHS at a funny line.


Theater-goers stream out into the lobby after the play and light up cigarettes. The air is thick and tinged blue with smoke.

Holden and Sally are pushed into the lobby  in a crush of people. Holden stops and takes out two cigarettes. He gives one to Sally and lights it for her.

SALLY: What a marvelous show! Don’t you think?

HOLDEN: Well, yeah–

SALLY: You can’t beat Alfred Lunt for acting. I mean, both of them — the Lunts. They’re marvelous.

HOLDEN: But, you know, it’s almost like he knows, they know, that Lynn Fontanne, too, that they’re good. Like, they’re showing off, almost, don’t you–

SALLY: I know that boy from somewhere.

She looks across the lobby and Holden follows her gaze.

HOLDEN’S P.O.V. – a college- aged guy stands on the other side of the lobby smoking and looking bored. He wears a dark gray flannel suit and a checkered vest.


shrugs and smokes his cigarette.

SALLY: I know him from someplace. I wonder if I met him at a party?

HOLDEN: Why don’t you go over there and give him a big old soul kiss, if you know him? He’ll enjoy it.

Sally elbows Holden because the guy, GEORGE MEADOWS, 17, is approaching them.

GEORGE: Sally.

He envelops her in a big hug while Holden stands aside.

SALLY (squealing): Oh, my goodness, George!

GEORGE: It’s been a long time. You look terrific. You really do.

He hugs her again. Holden rolls his eyes. Sally extracts herself from the hug.

SALLY: George, this is Holden Caulfield. He’s at Pencey. Holden, this is George Meadows. George is at Andover. George, how do you like the play so far?

George takes a step back and makes a sweeping gesture.

GEORGE: Well, the play itself is no masterpiece,  as I’m sure you’ve noticed, but the Lunts are absolute angels.

HOLDEN: Angels?

SALLY: Of course! Of course you’re absolutely right. Say, have you seen Peggy Reingold lately?

GEORGE: No, have you seen Norman Lewis? As it happens, I’m meeting up with him and some other friends for cocktails right after. You’re welcome to join, that is–

He looks from Sally to Holden.

SALLY: Well, we’re going to go skating after this. At Radio City.

GEORGE: Really?

Sally gives him a playful punch.

SALLY: Yes, really. It will be marvelous.

GEORGE: That’s my Sally, always up for a good time.

HOLDEN: Your Sally?

Sally leans in and gives George a big hug.

SALLY: We have to get together over break. Tell Norman I love him.

GEORGE: Of course! Too bad about the cocktails. Good-bye. Bye, uh–

Holden pulls Sally away across the lobby and out to the waiting line of cabs.


Sally and Holden lean against one another as they maneuver around the rink. Sally is wearing a tiny, blue skating dress that shows off her ass but her ankles are bending in towards each other.

Holden slips and almost takes both of them down. Sally helps him regain his footing.

HOLDEN: Want to go inside and get a table and have a drink or something?

SALLY: That’s the most marvelous idea you’ve had all day.

She skates away from him, wobbling on her soft ankles.


Holden and Sally sit at a table for two looking out at the ice rink. Their skates lie in a heap next to their table.

Sally smokes at a rapid pace. Holden drinks a Coke and then picks up a book of matches from the table and starts lighting them, one after another, and watching them burn down until he can’t hold them anymore.

SALLY: Look, I have to know if you’re coming over to help me trim the tree on Christmas Eve?

HOLDEN: I told you I would. Sure I am.

SALLY: I mean, I have to know. I have to be able to plan.

Holden moves his chair closer to hers.

HOLDEN: Hey, Sally– Do you ever get fed up? I mean, did you ever get scared that everything was going to go lousy unless you did something? I mean, do you like school and all that stuff?

SALLY: Well, it’s a terrific bore.

HOLDEN: But do you hate it?

SALLY: I don’t exactly hate it. You always have to–

HOLDEN: Well, I hate it. Boy, do I hate it. But it isn’t just that. It’s everything. I hate living in New York and all. Taxicabs and Madison Avenue buses, with the drivers yelling at you and being introduced to phony guys who call the Lunts angels and guys fitting your pants all the time at Brooks and people always–

SALLY: Stop shouting.

HOLDEN: Take cars. Take most people, they’re crazy about cars. They worry about getting a scratch on them, they’re always talking about how many miles they get to the gallon– I don’t even like cars. They don’t interest me. I’d rather have a goddamn horse.

SALLY: I don’t even know what you’re talking about.

HOLDEN: You’re probably the only reason I’m in New York right now. If you weren’t here I’d probably be off in the woods or some goddamn place.

SALLY: You’re sweet.

HOLDEN: You should try going to a boys’ school sometime. All you do is study so you can be smart enough to be able to buy a Cadillac and you have to make believe you give a damn about football and all you do is talk about girls and liquor and sex all day.

SALLY: Lots of boys get more out of school than that.

HOLDEN: Some of them. Some of them do. But that’s all I get out of it. I’m in bad shape. I’m in lousy shape.

SALLY: You certainly are.

HOLDEN: You wanna get the hell out of here? I know this guy in Greenwich Village that we can borrow a car from for a couple of weeks. We could drive up to Vermont and Massachusetts and all around there. It’s beautiful as hell up there.

He reaches over and takes Sally’s hand.

HOLDEN (CONT.): I have about $180. We could stay in a cabin. When the money runs out I could get a job somewhere and then later on we could get married and I could chop all our own wood in the wintertime. Wuddaya say? Will you do it with me?

SALLY: You can’t just do something like that.

HOLDEN (yelling): Why not?

Sally stands up.

SALLY: Stop screaming at me. Because you can’t, that’s all. The whole thing is so fantastic it isn’t even–

She reaches down and grabs her skates.

HOLDEN: It isn’t fantastic. I’d get a job. Don’t you want to go with me?

She pats Holden’s hand.

SALLY: It isn’t that at all. We’ll have oodles of time to do those things – all those things. I mean, after you go to college and if we should get married and all. There’ll be oodles of time and marvelous places to go.

Holden takes his hand away and buries his head in his hands.

HOLDEN: No, there won’t be. It wouldn’t be the same at all. You don’t see what I mean at all.

SALLY: What? I can’t hear you.

Holden gets up, knocking his chair over.

HOLDEN: You don’t get it at all.

SALLY: Maybe I don’t!

Holden walks away and Sally follows. They weave through the tables where other couples enjoy post-skating cocktails.

HOLDEN: You give me a royal pain in the ass, if you wan to know the truth.

He turns his back on her.


Holden explodes out the front door of the bar, followed closely by Sally, who is crying. She pushes him on the shoulder.

SALLY: Who the hell do you think you are? Do you think you matter to me? Do you think you matter to anyone?

HOLDEN: Look, I’m sorry I said that–

SALLY: Oh, keep your stupid apology. I don’t care.

HOLDEN: No, listen. I’m sorry.

SALLY: You’re sorry. You’re sorry. Very funny.

He tries to hug her and she wriggles away.

SALLY: I can go home by myself, thank you. If you think I’d let you take me home, you’re mad. No boy ever said that to me in my entire life.

Holden bursts out laughing.

SALLY: You’re a jerk, you know that? I would never marry you. Ever. You– you– failure!

HOLDEN: I’m sorry. Let me take–

He reaches for her hand. She grabs it back and spins away from him. She tries to leave but Holden follows her. She turns on him, face red with rage.

SALLY: Don’t. Don’t you follow me. I don’t ever want to talk to you again.

She takes off down the sidewalk for real this time, leaving him standing there.