Chapters 18, 19 & 20
On Sunday evening, Holden ‘phones Carl Luce who was his adviser at Whooton
School and is three years his senior. They agree to meet for a drink at 10.00 p.m. in the Seton Hotel. When Luce arrives, he only stays for one drink as he has a date with an older woman in her late thirties
who is a Chinese sculptress.
Holden leaves the bar and goes into the freezing cold night.
The water he has splashed on his head to sober him up freezes into icicles on his hair.
He goes to the frozen duck pond in Central Park and remembers going to
Allie’s grave with his parents. The idea of placing flowers on the grass covering the stomachs of the dead disturbs him.
In desperation Holden feels the need to talk to Phoebe so he decides to go
home. He hopes his parents will be out so he won’t have to meet them yet.
These insignificant chapters mark the start of Holden’s path towards a bad
Luce has little time for Holden, who aggressively asks him about sex.
After Luce leaves Holden gets drunk and tries to pick up several girls, but fails.
Holden starts to fall apart, acting irrationally.
The frozen duck pond becomes a metaphor cleverly used by Salinger.
It is mentioned earlier during Holden’s musings with the taxi driver, Horwitz, ‘Where do the ducks go when the pond freezes?’ Where did Allie go? Being a confessed atheist, this thought disturbs Holden as things keep disappearing. He is disturbed that people and things just vanish. The pond symbolizes Holden’s transitional state between childhood and adulthood. The pond is partly frozen and partly thawed. To Holden, the world is partly made up of grotesque, phony people, living in a world full of hypocrisy.