Catcher in the Rye Chapters 2-6

{click here for my last post on Catcher!}

In these chapters of Catcher in the Rye, Holden goes to his teacher, Mr. Spencer’s, house, annoys him, and then manages to annoy all two (2) of his friends. Holden is like a pot that you’re watching boil over, and when it hits the cement, you think it’ll stop, but it just boils right through that cement and down to the ground.

Holden has an obvious obsession with calling everything “phony.” Exhibit A: “He was at least a pretty friendly guy, Stradlater. It was partly a phony kind of friendly, but at least he always said hello to Ackley and all” (pg. 34). Everything Holden thinks is fake or superficial in the slightest is automatically branded as phony. The more I read, the more it seems like a sort of defense mechanism for him. God forbid he would confuse something with kindness and get close to said person, so he might as well call it phony. The best thing I can equate it to is if you, say, have this internalized hatred for the “popular kids” at school so you don’t cry when they don’t invite you to their Halloween party. This makes Holden much more in depth and provides a lot more insight as to who he is.


Relating to this, Holden talking about the death of his brother Allie really opened up a certain vulnerability of his and made him seem a lot more human. I hope this story is further explored because it didn’t want me to stick Holden to a ceiling fan for once. Perhaps this is an explanation for why he’s so touchy and easily angered/irritated. And going back to the “phony” thing: he obviously got close to Allie, just to watch him die. He probably doesn’t want to form any close relationships again in case he gets “cheated.” Holden definitely seems to have a lot of trauma in his past which he never learned how to control.


You can see this come out when Holden has a fit of rage at Stradlater, his roommate. He was mad to begin with, and everything just goes downhill from there. He rips up his essay about Allie’s mitt, gets mad when he finds that Stradlater is really nonchalant about dating Jane, then gets more and more angered at every small mannerism until he finally socks Stradlater in the face. Does he even know why he did it? He admits “feeling funny,” and not remembering what happened. Holden has some deep-rooted issues which makes him an interesting narrator to follow the story with.


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