The Catcher in the Rye Quotes with Page Numbers
Page numbers refer to the Little, Brown, and Company edition (c. 1951). Most of the following quotes are Holden's narration (as opposed to spoken dialouge).
"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like . . . and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth"
"I was trying to feel some kind of a good-by . . . I don't care if it's a sad good-by or a bad good-by, but when I leave a place I like to know I'm leaving it. If you don't, you feel even worse"
"Life being a game and all. And how you should play it according to the rules"
"People never notice anything"
"I'm the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life"
"I didn't throw [the snowball] at anything, though. I started to throw it. At a car that was parked across the street. But I changed my mind. The car looked so nice and white. Then I started to throw it at a hydrant, but that looked too nice and white, too. Finally I didn't throw it at anything. All I did was close the window and walk around the room with the snowball, packing it harder"
"Sleep tight, ya morons!"
"You don't always have to get too sexy to get to know a girl"
"You think if they're intelligent and all, the other person, and have a good sense of humor, that they don't give a damn whose suitcases are better, but they do. They really do"
"Goddam money. It always ends up making you blue as hell"
"The cars zoomed by, brakes screeched all over the place, his parents paid no attention to him, and he kept on walking next to the curb and singing 'If a body catch a body coming through the rye.' It made me feel better. It made me feel not so depressed any more"
"I hate actors. They never act like people. They just think they do"
"God, I love it when a kid's nice and polite when you tighten their skate for them or something. Most kids are. They really are"
"Certain things they should stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone. I know that's impossible, but it's too bad anyway"
Phoebe to Holden: "You don't like anything that's happening. . . . You don't like any schools. You don't like a million things. You don't"
Holden about Phoebe: "She was about a thousand miles away"
"Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around-nobody big, I mean-except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff-I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I'd do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be. I know it's crazy"
"I mean [Mr. Vinson would] keep telling you to unify and simplify all the time. Some things you just can't do that to"
Mr. Antolini to Holden: "I have a feeling that you're riding for some kind of a terrible, terrible fall. . . . This fall I think you're riding for-it's a special kind of fall, a horrible kind. The man falling isn't permitted to feel or hear himself hit bottom. He just keeps falling and falling. The whole arrangement's designed for men who, at some time or other in their lives, were looking for something their own environment couldn't supply them with. Or they thought their own environment couldn't supply them with. So they gave up looking. They gave it up before they ever really even got started"
Mr. Antolini to Holden: "The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one [quoted from Wilhelm Stekel]"
"I had this feeling that I'd never get to the other side of the street. I thought I'd just go down, down, down, and nobody'd ever see me again. . . . But I kept going. I was sort of afraid to stop, I think"
"If you had a million years to do it in, you couldn't rub out even half the 'Fuck you' signs in the world. It's impossible"
"I was the only one left in the tomb then. I sort of liked it, in a way. It was so nice and peaceful"
"That's the nice thing about carrousels, they always play the same songs"
"All the kids kept trying to grab for the gold ring, and so was old Phoebe, and I was sort of afraid she'd fall off the goddam horse, but I didn't say anything or do anything. The thing with kids is, if they want to grab for the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and not say anything. If they fall off, they fall off, but it's bad if you say anything to them"
"I felt so damn happy all of a sudden, the way old Phoebe kept going around and around . . . It was just that she looked so damn nice, the way she kept going around and around, in her blue coat and all"
"Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody"