The Catcher in the Rye By J. D. Salinger Summary and Analysis Chapters 6-7

Summary

The events of the rest of the evening are a little blurred in Holden's memory. Stradlater returns around 11:00 or so and reads the theme paper Holden has written, while unbuttoning his shirt and stroking his chest. Stradlater is in love with himself. Of course, he doesn't understand Holden's choice of a baseball glove for a descriptive essay and condemns it. Holden grabs the paper and tears it up.

Holden becomes increasingly agitated about Stradlater's date with Jane. Although he can't know exactly what happened, his roommate's glib comments enrage him. Stradlater taunts him, and Holden misses with a wild punch. Stradlater holds him down but lets him up. Holden calls Stradlater a moron and gets a bloody nose for his trouble. Stradlater leaves. Holden decides to spend the night in Ackley's room, can't sleep, thinks of visiting Mal Brossard but changes his mind, and decides to "get the hell out of Pencey," instead of waiting until Wednesday to leave. He plans to rent an inexpensive hotel room in New York City and stay there until Wednesday, when he can go home.

Analysis

Stradlater is a superficial kid who has no hope of understanding Holden's theme or the significance of a baseball glove covered with poems. Nor could he possibly value a girl who keeps her kings in the back row, when she plays checkers, because they look nice back there. Holden has been on a double date with Ward and knows what a womanizer his roommate is. He becomes increasingly upset when he learns that Stradlater made Jane late for her curfew and spent the evening, with her, parked in the basketball coach's car. When Holden asks what happened, Stradlater is arrogant and taunting. Holden tries to fight his larger, stronger roommate, but, of course, he has no chance.

Jane is an early example of Holden's devotion to those he sees as innocent. Holden sees Jane as a sensitive, imaginative girl who transcends the cruelty of life. But Stradlater sees the girl as just another potential score. He can't even keep her name straight, mistakenly calling her "Jean." Holden can't protect Jane, whether or not she needs or wants his help, any more than he could protect his brother Allie. He is frustrated and angry that the Stradlaters of the world win so often. Fed up with Pencey Prep and all it stands for, Holden decides to leave and to stay at a hotel until he can go home on Wednesday.

Glossary

backasswards similar to the slang term ass-backwards, meaning, done in a way that is particularly contrary to the usual way, confusing, etc.

socks hard hits with the fist.

shadow punches sparring with an imaginary opponent, especially in training as a boxer.

Give her the time here, engage in sexual activity with the girl.

pacifist one who is opposed to the use of force under any circumstances; specifically, one who refuses for reasons of conscience to participate in war or any military action.

Canasta a card game, a variation of rummy, usually for two or four players, using a double deck of cards and four jokers.

Mass the Roman Catholic Eucharistic (communion) rite consisting of prayers and ceremonies centered on the consecration of bread and wine.

aces first-rate; expert. Here, Holden uses the term sarcastically to Ackley.

Gladstones light hand luggage with two hinged compartments.

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