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The Catcher in the Rye | Study Guide

J. D. Salinger

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Chapter 2

Course Hero's video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of chapter 2 of J.D. Salinger's novel The Catcher in the Rye.

The Catcher in the Rye | Chapter 2 | Summary



Spencer calls Holden in by his last name, Caulfield. Holden tries to be polite; however, Spencer's scolding tone annoys Holden.

Holden interrupts his retelling to say that he is 17 and that the events he describes happened when he was 16. Holden explains that sometimes he acts "like I'm about thirteen," while at other times he acts older than his age.

As Spencer criticizes Holden's poor grades, Holden tries to say what Spencer expects, even as he thinks about where the ducks that live in Central Park go during winter. Spencer asks whether Holden cares about his future, but the lecture makes Holden "sound dead," so he makes excuses about "going through a phase" and leaves.


Holden, as an introspective character, is a keen and unique observer. How he reveals himself as he narrates his experiences is, for many readers, his most memorable trait. Sometimes Holden indicates that he is easily upset by inconsequential actions. When he visits Spencer, he keeps count of how many times Spencer repeats himself and finds that the repetition irritates him. Holden not only observes details, but he responds to them. For example, when Holden sees Spencer with his exam, he describes the way Spencer delicately touches the exam "like it was a turd or something." Finally, Holden occasionally shows that he can be judgmental. When he recalls a headmaster who favors wealthier parents, he says that such behavior "makes me so depressed I go crazy." Holden may be judgmental, but he is not blind to his own faults and childish behavior. He isn't the first or the last character to struggle through his teen years; his candid comments about himself and his world allow him to endure in readers' minds.

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