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A Catcher in the Rye

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Chapter 6: Chapter six marks a major turning point for Holden. This turning point is found in the physical struggle between Holden and Stradlater. After Stradlater returns from his date with Jane, he asks Holden if he's written his composition for him. Stradlater reads the paper and quickly shoots it down, saying that a description of a baseball glove isn't what the teacher wants. Holden is deeply hurt by this, and turns bitter toward Stradlater, feeling not only a rejection of the paper he wrote, but indeed a rejection of his brother, Allie. This encounter serves to further confuse Holden about who his role-models should be and extends his disillusionment with society in general.

The second factor which leads to the fight between the two teens is the "professional secret" comment by Stradlater. When Holden asks Stradlater if he gave Jane, his childhood sweetheart, "the time" (meaning did she lose her virginity to him), Stradlater shrugs it off by saying that it's a "professional secret." This enrages the already annoyed Holden, yet he can't articulate the anger he feels. Holden admits that he doesn't remember the following events too well. He just says that he knows he tries to punch Stradlater in the mouth but misses and soon finds himself on the floor. To further anger Stradlater, Holden calls him names, acknowledging, "I told him he didn't even care if a girl kept all her kings in the back row or not, and the reason he didn't care was because he was a goddam stupid moron."

Again, Holden's mouth gets him in trouble. Although he can't really explain to the reader why he is so angry, he is quick to judge Stradlater, calling him a "goddam stupid moron." But it's not the kings in the back row that really concerns Holden, it's the fact that he can't protect the virgin innocence of Jane. Yet at this point in the story even Holden doesn't realize what has enraged him so.

The rest of the chapter deals with Holden's reaction to his own bloody face. He explains that the sight of so much blood and gore both scared and frightened him. Although he doesn't understand it himself, the reason he seems to find a morbid fascination in the sight is because subconsciously he sees himself as a martyr for Jane. Deep down he likes the idea of being punished for the sins of Stradlater and Jane.

Chapter 7: Salinger's seventh chapter serves as a transition from the fight with Stradlater to Holden's departure from Pencey Prep. After the fight, Holden decides to take refuge in Ackley's adjoining room next-door. Of course he does this very late at night, so Ackley is already sleeping or at least trying to sleep. Holden wakes him and asks if he can sleep in the bed of Ackley's roommate. This annoys Ackley, but he doesn't make Holden leave. Soon Ackley asks Holden about the fight but Holden lies about it, saying that he was defending Ackley's reputation. Here, as in earlier scenes, Holden seeks the path of least resistance, conforming and adapting his attitude depending on whom he is with.

During the night, Holden asks Ackley, a Catholic, about the requirements to join a monastery. But soon Holden dismisses this notion as silly, since he'd probably join a monastery "with the wrong kind of monks in it." Here, Holden's lack of self-confidence is again revealed. Soon Holden returns to his dorm to pack his bags when he notices brand-new ice skates that his mother has just sent. This reminds him of home and his parents' expectations for him, most of which he hasn't lived up to. He becomes depressed, explaining, "Almost every time somebody gives me a present, it ends up making me sad."

Eventually, Holden leaves the dorm with all his belongings. This is more than a physical departure, but really also psychological one-- Holden is attempting to leave his past and embark on his future, hoping to find his place in the world. After exiting the door to the dormitory, he wakes nearly everyone by screaming, "Sleep tight, ya morons!"

Chapter 8: In this chapter, Holden gets on a train to New York city, where he plans to spend a few days in a hotel before going home. During the trip he ends up meeting the mother of one of the "bast***s" he goes to school with at Pencey Prep. In order to protect his identity, Holden lies about his name but decides to "shoot the bull" with her for awhile. One of the ways he shoots the bull is by flattering the woman about her son. Holden tells

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