The Catcher in the Rye
J. D. Salinger
Contributed by Marinda Dreiling
Chapter 6

When Stradlater finally returns to the dorm, Holden can hardly restrain his nervous anticipation about Stradlater’s date with Jane. Holden narrates this section with a lot of subdued anger and says he can’t remember a lot of the details. Stradlater doesn’t offer any information about the date, and Holden tries to conceal his concern. When Stradlater sees the essay Holden has written, he complains about the subject (Allie’s baseball mitt), so Holden rips up the essay. Both boys are upset and edgy and don’t talk for a while after this. Holden smokes a cigarette to relax and annoy Stradlater, who can’t stand it when Holden breaks the rules.

Holden finally asks about the date, and isn’t happy to hear that Stradlater and Jane "just sat in the goddam car" all night. Holden asks directly if he "gave her the time" and Stradlater dances around the question. This is more than Holden can take, and he tries to give Stradlater a good sock in the face. In the end, it’s Holden who takes the harder punch. He calls Stradlater a moron so many times that Stradlater looses it. Stradlater is nervous after this - he didn’t really want to hit Holden.

Holden’s nose is bleeding profusely, and he waits for Stradlater to go to the bathroom before getting up. He digs under his bed to find his hunting hat and puts it on. Holden then looks at himself in the mirror.

"You never saw such gore in your life. . .. It partly scared me and it partly fascinated me. All that blood and all sort of made me look tough. I’d only been in about two fights in my life, and I lost both of them. I’m not too tough. I’m a pacifist, if you want to know the truth." Chapter 6, pp. 45-46

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