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Free Study Guide-The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger-Free BookNotes
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Chapter 5

Summary

Holden has dinner in the dormitory, where steak is always served on Saturday night. After dinner, Holden indulges in throwing snowballs and horsing around with some fellow students. He then agrees to go into Agerstown with his friend Mel Brossard and Ackley. Both Brossard and Ackley have already seen the movie that is playing, so they simply eat hamburgers and play pinball before heading back to the dorm. Broussard goes to play cards, and Ackley pesters Holden, who finally tells him he has to leave for he has an essay to write, obviously the one for Stradlater. In the composition, he describes the baseball glove that belonged to his little brother Allie, who died from leukemia. Allie had written poems in green ink all over his baseball glove so he would have something to read when he played outfield. Holden cherishes the mitt, keeping it with him at school.

Notes

Another, more social side of Holden is seen in this chapter. After Saturday supper in the dorm, he goes outside with fellow students to play in the snow and horse around. He even goes into town with his friend Mel Broussard. Ackley comes with them, proving that Holden is really not so repulsed by Ackley as he would have it seem. Back at school, Broussard goes off to play cards, and Ackley follows Holden to his room and pesters him.


Ackley is told to leave so that Holden can write the essay for Stradlater. His willingness to do his roommate’s schoolwork, while he is out on a date, is an indication that Holden wants to be accepted by Stradlater. As a subject, he chooses a baseball mitt that belonged to his little brother Allie. He admits that he treasures the mitt, revealing the sensitive side of Holden.

The mention of the mitt provides entry to another flashback. Holden idolized this little brother and reacted violently to Allie’s untimely death. In reaction to the deep hurt he was feeling at the loss, Holden violently broke windows, injuring himself in the process; he also refused to sleep in the house, staying in the garage. It is important to note that the two people Holden has cared about the most, his brothers D.B. and Allie, have been separated from him--one by career and the other by death. Part of Holden’s alienation obviously stems from this fact.

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