Summary of what happened in each chapter of the novel the catcher in the rye
Summary of What Happened in Each Chapter of the Novel “The Catcher in the Rye”
The Catcher in the Rye Chapters
Holden Caulfield retells the story of his childhood from a rest home as an old man. As a young teen, he is suspended from Pencey Prep school. He goes to his elderly teacher Mr. Spencer’s house, where he is greeted.
Holden talks to Mr. Spencer, who reminds him that he flunked him from his history classes, and reminds him that life is a game that you have to play the rules to in order to succeed.
Holden is pestered by Ackley, an irritating student who disgusts Holden with his poor hygiene. Ackley does not leave until Stradlater, Holden’s roommate, shows up.
Holden notes that Stradlater is clean-cut and still a ‘secret slob,’ while Ackley is more openly so. Holden gets jealous of Stradlater taking Jane Gallagher out on a date.
Holden starts a snowball fight; later, he starts a paper Stradlater asked him to write for him. He writes about a baseball glove that reminds him of an old friend – Allie, who died years ago, but whom Holden still misses.
Stradlater comes back from his date with Jane, and gets into a fight with Holden rather than tell him about how the date went; Holden is clearly jealous and angry that Stradlater is dating Jane.
Still stewing about Jane and Stradlater, Holden decides to pack up and leave for New York right away. He gets packed up and yells out “Sleep tight, ya morons!” before finally leaving Pencey for good.
At the train station, Holden surprisingly meets up with the mother of another classmate. Despite the fact that he does not like him, he lies to her and tells her positive things about him, lying about his own name.
Once he arrives at Penn Station, he chooses not to call anyone, and instead goes to the Edmont Hotel. Turned on by the things he sees on the cab ride there, he tries to call Faith Cavendish in order to get laid, but she refuses to meet him right then.
At the Edmont, he goes down to the Lavender Room and tries to buy a drink; however, he cannot manage to do so. He attempts to flirt with three older women, but they are unimpressed by him. He gets dejected and leaves after buying them drinks.
Holden thinks about Jane and his history with her. Since living next door to each other as children, he has carried a torch for her, but her abusive stepfather traumatizes her and makes her sad.
Holden goes to Ernie’s, a nightclub, and meets various people along the way, including the angry cab driver, and Lillian, a girl whom his brother DB used to date, leaving the nightclub.
Going back to the Edmont, depressed, he reflects on his cowardice. He imagines telling off the person who stole his gloves back at Pencey; he then tries to make up for it by ordering a prostitute from the elevator operator. This is unsuccessful, as he is too flustered.
Holden reminisces further about his childhood with Alice, but is interrupted with the doorman, who asks for the extra money he owed the prostitute. He is beaten and stolen from, and he only imagines standing up to the elevator operator.
Holden has a date with Sally Hayes, which he sets for later that day. Eating breakfast, he talks to some nuns, whom he gives money to out of a sense of obligation, later regretting that he doesn’t have that money for the date.
Holden buys a record for Phoebe, and chooses to call Jane, but does not get through to her. He buys tickets to the theater for his date with Sally; he then reminisces about his old school trips.
Holden goes on his date with Sally, and goes to the theater with her. After her flirting with other men, Holden gets angry, and eventually tells her off, making her cry. He leaves the date without her.
After the date, Holden goes to Radio City Music Hall and is unimpressed by both the Rockettes’ stage show and the movie that plays there. At the Wicker Bar later, he thinks about the army and how he would not want to be there, meeting Luce.
Holden thinks about his friend Luce, an older boy from school who was always very sexually preoccupied when they were younger, but then refused to talk about it. Luce suggests that Holden needs psychoanalysis.
Holden gets drunk at the bar and calls Sally Hayes late at night, making her angry. He proceeds to flirt with other girls at the bar. He breaks the record he purchased for Phoebe in Central Park, and decides to head home.
Going to his family’s apartment, Holden sneaks in and finds Phoebe, waking her up. They catch up, but then clams up with him after realizing he should not be home.
After getting Phoebe to continue talking to him, he explains the reason why school sucks and why he flunked out of his classes. Phoebe and Holden discuss the issue of their dead friend Allie, and Holden contemplates what he might want out of life.
Holden calls his English teacher, Mr. Antolini, and discusses plans to meet him. Hanging out with Phoebe a bit more, he hides from his returning parents, and sneaks out of the apartment to move west on his own.
Holden goes to Mr. Antolini’s place, and talks to him about his expulsion from Pencey. Mr. Antolini calls him out on his overt cynicism and his tendency to digress. Antolini is worried about Holden because he is about to fall apart or hit bottom; Holden becomes defensive about that, but Antolini insists that he is not ready for the outside world. He tries to sleep at Antolini’s place, but rushes out after believing that Antolini is making a pass at him.
Holden goes to Grand Central Station to leave, but decides to meet Phoebe at the Museum of Art and say goodbye to her. Phoebe instead asks to go with him, but he refuses; they go to the zoo instead for one final good memory.
Holden goes to the rest home after getting sick, from which he will go to another school in the fall; it is left ambiguous as to whether or not he will make changes in his life.
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