The Catcher in the Rye | Study Guide

J. D. Salinger

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Chapter 5

Course Hero's video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of chapter 5 of J.D. Salinger's novel The Catcher in the Rye.

The Catcher in the Rye | Chapter 5 | Summary

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Summary

After dinner Holden and another Pencey student, Mal Brossard, decide to take a bus into town to see a movie. Holden also invites Ackley, who agrees to go. In town the students eat, play pinball, and return to the dorm. Ackley ignores Holden's repeated hints and sits on Stradlater's bed, talking yet again about a sexual encounter he'd had the summer before. Finally, Holden gets Ackley to leave; then he works on Stradlater's English paper. He writes about his little brother Allie's baseball mitt, which Holden keeps with him.

The composition describes Allie, who died of leukemia when he was 11. Allie, who Holden describes as very intelligent, wrote poetry in green ink all over his fielder's mitt so that he'd have something to read during lulls in the game. Allie died when Holden was 13, and in his grief Holden broke the garage windows with his fists.

Analysis

This chapter reveals Holden's tender side as he thinks about his beloved brother. The injuries to Holden's hands from smashing the windows the night Allie died are still with him: the hand hurts sometimes, and Holden can't quite make a fist. But he says he doesn't care much. Though he's usually vague about dates, Holden gives the specific date of Allie's death, July 18, 1946. It is the date that marks the end of Holden's childhood.

Ackley's snores intrude, yet Holden suddenly feels sympathy for Ackley, with his acne, bad teeth, and bad breath. It's as if Holden's affection for Allie spills over onto Ackley. Holden may be an unreliable narrator about to flunk out of his fourth school, but he is not a failure, despite what Pencey faculty may think.

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