In a taxicab, Holden inquires with the driver about whether the ducks in the Central Park lagoon migrate during winter, a subject he brings up often, but the man barely responds. He spends an evening dancing with three tourist women from Seattle in the hotel lounge and enjoys dancing with one, though is disappointed that he is unable to hold a conversation with them.
Following an unpromising visit to Ernie's Nightclub in Greenwich Village, Holden becomes preoccupied with his internal angst and agrees to have a prostitute named Sunny visit his room.
He spots a small boy singing "If a body catch a body coming through the rye", which lifts his mood.
Although Holden's date initially goes well, it soon sours after Sally introduces her friend George.
Even though he still paid her the right amount for her time, she returns with her pimp Maurice and demands more money.
Holden decides to meet his old classmate, a Columbia student named Carl Luce, for drinks at the Wicker Bar in the Seton Hotel.
His dorm neighbor Robert Ackley is one of the few students also missing the game.
Ackley, unpopular among his peers, disturbs Holden with his impolite questioning and mannerisms.
Holden Caulfield, a teenager from New York City, is living in an unspecified institution in southern California near Hollywood in 1951. B, an author and World War II veteran whom Holden resents for becoming a screenwriter, after his release in one month.
As he waits, Holden recalls the events of the previous Christmas.