I've just picked up a copy of J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye, realizing that it's something that I've never read before and should probably get around to doing. I came across this section in chapter five:

People with red hair are supposed to get mad very easily, but Allie never did, and he had very red hair. I'll tell you what kind of red hair he had. I started playing golf when I was only ten years old. I remember once, the summer I was around twelve, teeing off and all, and having a hunch that if I turned around all of a sudden, I'd see Allie. So I did, and sure enough, he was sitting on his bike outside the fence—there was this fence that went all around the course—and he was sitting there, about a hundred and fifty yards behind me, watching me tee off. That's the kind of red hair he had. God, he was a nice kid, though.
The Catcher in the Rye, chapter 5

I'm not quite catching on to how the anecdote here has anything to do with the color of Allie's hair. What does this have to do with "what kind of red hair he had"? What am I missing here?

2 Answers 2


I have always read that as saying his hair was so red that you didn’t even have to be looking at it to know it was there.


I always thought of it along the lines of his hair being a devilish trait, likening it to the proverb "Speak of the devil, and he will appear," although Holden merely has to think of Allie and his red hair in order to invoke him. When interpreted in this way the closing lines of the excerpt naturally portray the kind of strange hilarious irony that pops up again and again from each of the unreliably-narrated anecdotes that make up the bulk of the novel, and that if left unnoticed by the reader makes "Catcher" a very dry anticlimactic read.

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