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Chapter 4 and 5

Chapter 4

Bored, Holden follows Stradlater to the bathroom. Both Stradlater and Ackley are slobs, he concludes, but Stradlater is a "secret slob" because he always looks good anyway. He admits Stradlater is handsome, but "mostly a Year Book kind of handsome." After borrowing Holden's coat, Stradlater asks for another favor: he wants Holden to write a short descriptive composition for English class for him. Holden doesn't give him a straight answer, only saying he will if he has the time, and playfully puts Stradlater in a half nelson, which he easily breaks (Stradlater is both bigger and stronger than Holden).

Stradlater mentions that his date, Jane Gallagher, knows Holden (Stradlater mistakenly calls her Jean Gallagher). Holden corrects him, and enthusiastically chatters on about how he lived near her for a summer, about her dog, about how their families belonged to the same country club, and about how when they'd play checkers she wouldn't move any of her kings out of the back row. It is a rare public display of emotion by Holden - we realize that Holden has perhaps more affection for Jane than he realizes. He announces he should go down to say hello to her. Stradlater exasperatedly asks him why he doesn't, instead of just saying it, but Holden says he isn't in the right mood. He asks Stradlater to say hello for him, although he knows he won't bother, but not to mention anything about him getting kicked out of Pencey.

Holden is preoccupied with what Stradlater will do on his date with Jane, and nervously worries for her for a half-hour after Stradlater leaves wearing Holden's jacket. Ackley eventually returns, and he sits with Holden, criticizing the kids at Pencey until dinnertime.

Chapter 5

Saturday dinner at Pencey is always steak night. The steaks are never actually any good, and Holden figures the school only does this because "a lot of guys' parents came up to school on Sunday and old Thurmer probably figured everybody's mother would ask their darling boy what he had for dinner last night, and he'd say 'Steak.'" After a bit of impromptu snowball-throwing afterwards, Holden and a friend decide to head into town to see a movie and get a hamburger. Holden talks his friend into allowing Ackley to come along because Holden doesn't want Ackley to sit around by himself on a Saturday night. While waiting for Ackley to get ready Holden packs a snowball, but doesn't throw it - everything already has a layer of pure snow on it which he doesn't want to disturb. When they do get into town (Agerstown, PA), they only end up having burgers and playing pinball, and when they get back Ackley comes to hang out in Holden's room. Ackley bores Holden with stories of his sexual exploits over the summer. "It was all a lot of crap, naturally," Holden concludes, "He was a virgin if I ever saw one." Holden finally gets him to leave by announcing he has to write Stradlater's descriptive composition.

Wearing the hunting cap and sitting down to write, Holden decides he doesn't feel like describing a room or a house and instead describes his younger brother Allie's old baseball glove, which Holden has with him at school. Allie had copied down poems all over the glove to keep himself entertained during the lulls in the game. Holden tells us that Allie was extremely intelligent, and had bright red hair. He goes on to explain to us that Allie died of leukemia (on July 18, 1946 - the only date given in the whole novel), and that after it happened Holden was so angry he broke all the windows in the garage, breaking his hand in the process. The chapter ends with Holden hearing Ackley snoring next door, and Holden feeling sorry for him.

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4 and 5
Chapter 6 and 7
Chapter 8 and 9
Chapter 10 and 11
Chapter 12 and 13
Chapter 14 and 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17 and 18
Chapter 19 and 20
Chapter 21 and 22
Chapter 23 and 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26


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