B. The Catcher in the Rye: 25 till / 1 until
The classic novel Catcher in the Rye has symbolized the search-of-self
for several generations. It recounts the adventures of Holden Caufield, a troubled teenager who has
just been expelled from a private school, for a few days in New York before he can go home
officially for the Christmas vacation. These adventures not only fill in his time but also give
expression to his way of viewing the world and life as a typically mixed up adolescent rejecting the
hypocrisy of phony adult society and his search for a better and more real world. Not surprisingly,
this text appears with 25 instances of the unmarked form till to indicate events which fill
up his time. There is however one example of the marked form until which introduces
a recurrent leitmotif in the text: where do the ducks from the Central Park lake go in the
winter when the lake freezes over. This theme can be related to Holden's search for a better world
and appears in the text as a recurrent question whose answer plays an important role in Holden's sense
of himself and the world and as a barometer or seismograph of his relationships with other people.
The following example juxtaposes the use of both forms in a passage describing Holden's taking a
cab when he arrives in New York, mistakenly giving his parents' address and then having to decide
where to go and what to do before he can show up at home:
(31) I'm so damned absent-minded, I gave the driver my regular
address, just out of habit and all I mean I completely forgot I was going to shack up in
a hotel for a couple of days and not go home till vacation started. I didn't think
of it till we were halfway through the park. Then I said. "Hey, do you mind
turning when you get a chance I gave you the wrong address. I want to go back
The driver was sort of a wise guy. "I can't turn around here, Mac. This
here's a one-way. I'll have to go all the way to Ninedieth Street now."
I didn't want to start an argument. "Okay," I said. Then I thought of
something, all of a sudden. "Hey, listen," I said. "You know the ducks in that lagoon right
near Central Park South? That little lake? By any chance, do you happen to know where they
go, the ducks, when it gets all frozen over? Do you happen to know, by any chance?" I
realized it was only one chance in a million.
He turned around and looked at me like I was a madman. "What're ya tryna
do, bud?" he said, "Kid me?"
"No I was just interested, that's all."
He didn't say anything more, so I didn't either. Until we came
out of the park at Ninetieth Street. Then he said, "All right, buddy. Where to?" (60).
C. Salinger's Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters: 10 till, 1 until
This short story recounts the first person account of a soldier on leave to attend his
brother's wedding in New York City. The wedding does not place because the groom did not show
up and the soldier eventually finds himself riding in a car with the members of the wedding party and
the bride's relatives, who, because of a parade blocking traffic, all end up in the soldier's and his
brother's apartment. In this text as well, there is a significant preference for the unmarked form
till and only a single instance of the marked form until. Once again, the
marked form appears in the context of a very important and relevant theme or discovery. One of the
questions constantly being asked by the members of the wedding party and the bride's family is why
the groom has abandoned the bride. The soldier, himself, actually wonders why his brother even got
involved with the bride in the first place. The answer appears to be that the bride resembles a young
girl, now a famous movie star, with whom the groom was in love many years before. The single
instance of until appears in the context of the bride's aunt discovering a picture of the
movie star as a child, asking another guest, a Lieutenant, whom the girl resembles, and then verifying
that she could pass as the bride's double while the soldier admits that he had never actually seen the