Although Jane Gallagher does not appear during Holden Caulfield's short adventure in J.D. Salinger's novel "The Catcher in the Rye," her presence is nevertheless felt throughout the novel as she comes to represent sex and intimacy, and eventually Holden's passivity and indecision. Holden describes Jane, his friend at Pencey Prep, as one of the few people whose company he enjoys. He is unusually protective of her, according to Shmoop.com.
Despite dating, Jane Gallagher and Holden Caulfield's relationship never moves into the realm of the physical and it is heavily implied she has started dating his roommate Stradlater. Although she is never far from his thoughts, Holden fails to contact her during two key moments: when she is about to leave on a date with Stradlater and when they are both in New York. In the latter case, he does eventually manage to bring himself to call her but discovers that she has already left, symbolizing how his passivity has prevented him from connecting with another person. His affection for her is evident in his description of her habits and his praise for her reading habits, and he integrates her into various heroic fantasies he has after his violent encounter with Maurice and Sunny. He also compares her favorably with another girl he knows, Sally Hayes.