The Catcher in the Rye | Study Guide

J. D. Salinger

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Chapter 6

Course Hero's video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of chapter 6 of J.D. Salinger's novel The Catcher in the Rye.

The Catcher in the Rye | Chapter 6 | Summary

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Summary

Holden worries when Stradlater gets back from his date because he knows his roommate to be unscrupulous. Stradlater picks up Holden's composition and reads it while stroking his bare chest, a habit that shows Stradlater's narcissism. When Stradlater complains that the assignment describes a thing, not a place, Holden seizes the essay and tears it up.

Holden smokes, mostly to annoy Stradlater. Finally, Holden asks whether Jane got to her dorm by curfew. Stradlater blames Jane for getting back a few minutes late and orders Holden to smoke in the bathroom. Irritated, Holden continues to smoke, getting angry as Stradlater finally admits that he and Jane spent the evening in the basketball coach's car.

Holden hounds Stradlater for details and, when Stradlater refuses, tries to hit him. Stradlater pins Holden to the ground. Holden yells at Stradlater, angry that he would take advantage of a girl whose first name he didn't know. Stradlater lets Holden up but then hits him hard, blames Holden for the nosebleed the blow causes, and leaves the room. Holden puts on his red hat and checks his face in the mirror.

Analysis

The fight that occurs in this chapter dramatically contrasts Holden's and Stradlater's attitudes. Stradlater is moving into the adult world, learning to use his influence to get what he wants and relating to young women sexually. Holden resists this transition. The adult world, as he sees it, is potentially exploitive and fails to value individuals such as Allie and Jane.

Stradlater and Holden represent opposing sets of values. Holden, a self-described pacifist, is willing to fight for his values and becomes so enraged (and likely fearful) that he can't recall what happened during the fight. Readers may see in Holden a courageous teen standing up for what he believes. But Holden's reaction to Stradlater's date with Jane also reveals a fear of the sexual aspects of adult experience. Stradlater acts as a foil, a character who, by contrasting with a main character, helps readers see the main character more clearly.

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