The Catcher in the Rye By J. D. Salinger Summary and Analysis Chapter 4

Summary

Although the dorms have showers separating rooms, the toilets and sinks are down the hall. Having nothing better to do, Holden accompanies his roommate, Stradlater, as he prepares for a Saturday night date. Holden is first shocked and then concerned when he learns that his roommate's date that night is Jane Gallagher, a friend of his from the summer before his sophomore year. Holden repeatedly says he should go downstairs to say hello to Jane, but he never does.

Stradlater talks Holden into writing an English theme paper for him. Holden returns to his room and is joined by Ackley, whose company Holden doesn't mind, because listening to Ackley distracts him from thinking about Jane.

Analysis

Stradlater is a "Year Book kind of handsome guy." He has superficial good looks and is extremely photogenic, but he is arrogant and vain. He is also a secret slob. Stradlater may be well groomed, because he is in love with himself, but he lives like a pig. His razor, for example, is rusty and full of hair. He never cleans anything. He is a user — of women and of friends.

Stradlater wants Holden to compose a descriptive English theme for him because he knows that Holden writes well. Too lazy and incompetent to be a decent writer himself, Stradlater aggravates Holden by pretending that the only reason he can't write is that he puts the commas in the wrong places.

Holden has good reason to be concerned for Jean Stradlater is an experienced womanizer, and the Jean that Holden knows is an innocent dreamer, the kind of girl who, when she plays checkers, leaves her kings lined up in the opponent's back row, where they were crowned, preferring aesthetic design to victory. Holden's one consolation is that he knows Jean has already irked Stradlater by signing out of her dorm only until 9:30 p.m.

Glossary

can a toilet; here, the large room in the dorm that houses the toilets and sinks.

Ziegfeld Follies a lavish Broadway variety show, produced by American Florenz Ziegfeld (1869-1932).

Doberman pinscher any of a breed of large dog with erect ears, a docked tail, and a short, smooth, usually dark coat with tan markings.

caddy a person who attends a golfer, carrying the clubs, finding the balls, etc.

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

What animals in Central Park does Holden worry about?




Quiz