Chapters 4 & 5
Stradlater has a Saturday night date and wishes to borrow one of Holden’s
It is with Jane Gallagher a former girlfriend of Holden’s, which concerns him. He would like to rekindle the romance, but fails to summon up courage to say ‘Hello’ to her whilst she waits below in the dorm for Stradlater.
Holden agrees to write an essay for Stradlater. Later on Ackley who
helps him take his mind off Jane joins him.
Ackley and Holden have a boring trip downtown and Holden returns to do
Stradlater’s essay. He decides to write about his brother, Allie’s left-handed baseball glove.
Allie died of leukemia when he was only 11, Holden being 2 years
older. It is clear that Holden dearly loved his younger brother who had written poems in green ink over the glove so that he would have something to read when he was in the field. Holden considered his
brother Allie to be the best family member and extremely intelligent for his age.
Holden finished the essay around 10.30 p.m.
It is important to emphasize that we view the people and events through the
distorted eyes of the narrator.
Holden considers Stradlater to be the typical clean-cut all American guy, but he regards this as superficial, hiding a vain, arrogant slob. Stradlater’s personal hygiene has much to be desired e.g. his razor is rusty and full of hair. He is a user of women and friends.
The Catcher in the Rye is in many ways a book about the betrayal of
innocence by the 50’s American world and this gives rise to Holden’s bitter tone throughout the novel.
Holden is an innocent teenager, desperately trying to find a way to connect to the world around him with the minimum of pain.
Holden has a new hunting hat with earflaps, which looks ridiculous when he
wears it, as he is so tall and thin.
He wears it backwards like a baseball ‘catcher’ does. Holden decides to write Stradlater’s essay based on his brother’s left-handed fielding mitt, not a catcher’s mitt and this is one of the main symbols of the book. Holden’s new hunting hat serves as a kind of shield, which provides Holden with warmth and comfort.
He pretends not to care what people think about his appearance. It is
clear that Holden idolizes Allie and he is one of the few characters praised by Holden in the novel.
As the story progresses it becomes increasingly clear that Allies’ death was one of the most traumatic experiences of Holden’s life and is probably a major factor in his breakdown.
It is evident that Holden is under increasing pressure as he moves towards
leaving the school.