In "The Catcher in the Rye," Holden says the following: "All the athletic bastards stick together." What is this in response to? And how does this observation help to further develop Holden’s character?
The part that you are asking about is in chapter 6. Stradlater has just come back from his date with Jane. Holden is curious as to what happened on the date, because he is worried that Stradlater went on the date just to have sex with Jane. Stradlater, to his credit, isn't willing to give any details of the date. He simply says that they sat together in Ed Banky's car. Banky is Stradlater's basketball coach and loans his car out to players. That's when Holden says (thinks) his comment about the "athletic bastards."
The scene further develops Holden's character, because it continues to show that Holden doesn't like much of anybody. He really doesn't like the school "jocks" though, because he feels that they are some of the biggest phonies around. Holden will flat out say that he hates phonies multiple times in the novel.
"One of the biggest reasons I left Elkton Hills was because I was surrounded by phonies."
Holden sees the athletic types as being a big clique of phonies. I'd like to say that Holden only sees them as phonies, but as the novel progresses, it becomes clear to the reader that Holden believes that all people are phonies. Therefore, Holden doesn't have much like for anybody, including himself.