Stradlater and JaneI am never too anxious to read too fall into things, but something hit me. When Stradlater comes in form his date, he is evasive about his "success" with Jane. He complains about...

Stradlater and Jane

I am never too anxious to read too fall into things, but something hit me.

When Stradlater comes in form his date, he is evasive about his "success" with Jane. He complains about the cold. Holden doesn't hear his car approach, though he seems to notice every other sound. When Holden asks for concrete info about where they went, Stradlater reacts in  an immature evasive way.

When Holden steps out of the dorm to leave he slips on the peanuts shells someone had left after standing there to eat them, presumably in the snow. Is it possible that Stradlater was killing time eating those peanuts to give the illusion of yet another one of his conquests? It seems senseless for the author to place them there for mere slap stick effect. It would fit the motif if Stradlater felt he had to be phony and evasive to preserve his image. WHen HOlden presses for hte most concrete information, Stradlater does what Holden did in the previous chapter; he starts horsing around to change the subject.

SO... maybe Jane was safe.

 

Just a thought.

6 Answers | Add Yours

lentzk's profile pic

Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Stradlater does come across as being a 'phony'; his need to brag about his conquests seems like insecurity and low self-esteem, like he has to talk up his prowess to his roommate to make it more real feeling to himself.  The peanuts are a marvelous detail that Salinger included, and I agree with your interpretation.  Stradlater's only "success" may have been with the peanuts.

e-martin's profile pic

e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I agree with your reading. The peanut shells are meant to suggest that Stradlater was wasting time and meant as proof that his story was a childish defense against the admission of the truth.

accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I agree. We are of course given no clear answers, but the way in which that Stradlater is deliberately evasive about giving a response, where, according to Holden's assessment of him, if he had achieved a sexual conquest he would have been the first to share it without needing to be asked, does suggest that things didn't go as planned. I must admit, I was rather puzzled by the somewhat random reference to peanut shells, and agree with your idea.

ask996's profile pic

ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted on

You have observed what many teachers hope their students will discover--respected authors don’t add details to a story just for the fun of it. Most of it is written to “show” in greater detail what the author wants us to figure out. You might be right about the situation with Stradlater and Jane. You certainly make a good argument.

lynn30k's profile pic

lynn30k | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

I agree. Stradlater's image is one of the guy who can get who he wants, and the image is all due to Stradlater. Everything that Holden says about Jane in the novel does not fit with a girl who would be taken in by someone like Stradlater. So Stradlater does not out and out lie about what he has done with Jane because he knows that could be found out. He tries to make that impression, though. And if someone asks Jane and she says nothing happened, Stradlater can say that he never said it did.

epollock's profile pic

epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

Many readers of the novel have reached that same conclusion. For an author to just randomly throw "peanuts" into a work is not reasonable. It's the same way when it comes to rain. Obviously rain is a metaphor for a new beginning or a new washing away of something, and in this case, the peanuts were probably eaten by him to waste time so that he could come back later and then be evasive and put thoughts into people's heads about how successful he was.

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