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The Catcher in the Rye

by J. D. Salinger

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Holden's fight with Stradlater in The Catcher in the Rye and its implications

Summary:

Holden's fight with Stradlater in The Catcher in the Rye highlights Holden's deep-seated insecurities and protectiveness over Jane Gallagher. The altercation underscores his feelings of powerlessness and alienation, as he struggles to assert control over situations that matter to him, further emphasizing his internal conflicts and emotional turmoil.

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In The Catcher in the Rye, what causes the fight between Holden and Stradlater?

Holden and Stradlater fight because Stradlater has had a date with Jane Gallagher. Holden knows Jane and feels sorry for her because her parents were divorced and her stepfather walked around her house naked. He knows and understands Jane as a person and he feels like Stradlater is only trying to take advantage of Jane and doesn't really appreciate her.

They also fight because Stradlater acts entitled and asks Holden to write his English composition while Stradlater is on the date with Jane. He tells Holden not to put the commas in the right places so it appears as though Stradlater has written the composition. Stradlater is the kind of athletic, handsome boy who has things easy and who plays by the rules to the degree that he can stay at school. Holden annoys Stradlater by writing the composition about a baseball glove rather than about a room or house, as Stradlater had asked him. Holden then tears up the composition in anger, and they get into a fight. 

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In The Catcher in the Rye, what causes the fight between Holden and Stradlater?

The fight concerns the fact that Stradlater has gone on a date with Jane Gallagher. Holden starts to question Stradlater about what occurred on the date and he talks himself into a fury, imagining that Stradlater made sexual advances toward Jane, and possibly Jane responded to him. Holden can't stand the fact that Stradlater actually went out with Jane, because he does not have the courage to ask her out himself. He longs for Jane silently, keeping his feelings to himself.

Stradlater is dismissive of Holden's questions and this only serves to anger him further, until Holden can't help but hit Stradlater. He tells him that Jane is not the kind of girl that he should go parking with. She "Keeps her kings in the back row" a metaphor for her sexual purity.

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In The Catcher in the Rye, what causes the fight between Holden and Stradlater?

In chapter six, Stradlater returns from his date with Jane Gallagher, and Holden incessantly asks him rude questions regarding their date. After Holden asks his roommate if he "gave Jane the time" in Ed Banky's car, Stradlater refuses to answer his question and Holden suddenly attacks him. Holden's brash decision to attack Stradlater is a result of his pent-up anxiety and anger. Holden genuinely cares about Jane Gallagher and is disgusted by the idea that Stradlater would make sexual advances towards her. Holden feels the responsibility to protect Jane's honor from a "secret slob" like Stradlater, who he knows is much more sexually experienced than him.

Holden's assumed responsibility to protect Jane reflects his desire to prevent adolescents from entering the corrupt world of adults. Essentially, he fears that Jane would be taking a significant step towards adulthood by being intimate with Stradlater, which is something Holden desperately wishes to prevent. Holden's violent reaction is an outward reflection of his anxiety and anger towards Stradlater for making sexual advances toward Jane.

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In The Catcher in the Rye, what causes the fight between Holden and Stradlater?

Holden has issues with sex and manhood, and both are issues when he learns that Stradlater and Jane are going on a date.  Since he can't communicate his disapproval of the match to them or himself, he lashes out in childish behavior, knowing full well that he will be punished the bully Stradlater.

First, Holden does not want the adult world to encroach on his childhood innocence.  He's in a state of maturation denial.  And he doesn't want others to reach adulthood either, especially a childhood girlfriend like Jane.  Stradlater clearly believes the opposite: he uses sex as a means to experience the adult world sooner than he should.  So, when Holden learns that Jane is about to cross the threshold from childhood to adulthood by losing her virginity to Stradlater, he expresses hostility.

Holden also is a masochist.  He likes to see himself be victimized by other males in an effort to protect children and girls.  He's playing the role of James Castle here: a chilvarous defender of innocence.  Later, Holden will get beat up by Maurice because he refused to pay Sunny.  In both cases, Holden likes to see himself bloody: it's a overture to suicide.  He's a character in his own sadistic gangster film in which the bullies of adulthood beat up the innocent victims.  Again, all of this is repressive behavior in an effort to remain in childhood.

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In The Catcher in the Rye, what causes the fight between Holden and Stradlater?

In The Catcher in the Rye, Holden starts a fight with Stradlater after Stradlater returns from a date with Jane.  Holden really likes Jane, and he becomes enraged when Stradlater starts bad-mouthing her.  This is the outward reason for the fight between the two of them; however, it is likely that Holden has some deep-seated rage regarding Stradlater.  First, Holden knows--even though he does not admit--that Stradlater is much more attractive than he is, so he feels a bit jealous that Stradlater is able to use his good looks to attract girls.  Holden does not feel like he is a match for Stradlater, so he never even attempts to ask Jane out on a date.  Next, Holden has much respect for girls, but Stradlater does not, so Holden is angry that girls still choose to go out with Stradlater even though he carries a low regard for them.  So, Holden is generally angered by the fact that people are able to get by quite well on their appearance rather than on the merit of their character.

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In The Catcher in the Rye, what causes the fight between Holden and Stradlater?

In Chapter 4, Stradlater asks Holden to write a composition for him because he hasn't done the reading required to write the paper. Then he discusses his upcoming with Jane, an old friend of Holden's. Holden begins giving information about what Jane was interested in: ballet, checkers, golf, etc. Holden is convinced that Stradlater is not interested in any of this. "Only the sexy stuff interested him." Holden becomes concerned that Stradlater is only going out with Jane to take advantage of her. Holden is being thoughtful but he's also being judgmental, thinking that Jane can't take care of herself. 

Stradlater returns and reads the composition Holden has written for him. Stradlater criticizes it and Holden tears it up. Since Stradlater left for his date with Jane, Holden had been building up his anxiety and distrust toward Stradlater. The fact that Stradlater was less than appreciative of Holden's work made Holden even more angry. Stradlater playfully punches Holden in the shoulder. Holden continues to press him about what happened on the date. Holden asks Stradlater if he "gave her the time" and Stradlater replies that this is a "professional secret." By this time, Holden, feeling like Jane's protector, generally unhappy with Stradlater's attitude, and frustrated in general at being kicked out of school, finally snaps: 

This next part I don't remember so hot. All I know is I got up from the bed, like I was going down to the can or something, and then I tried to sock him, with all my might, right smack in the toothbrush, so it would split his goddam throat open. Only, I missed. I didn't connect. All I did was sort of get him on the side of the head or something. 

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Why does Holden fight with Stradlater in The Catcher in the Rye?

The main reason Holden gets into a fight with Stradlater is that he is in love with Jane Gallagher and consequently jealous of Stradlater. Holden understands and appreciates Jane, as shown by the fact that he writes about her many times throughout his book. He knows that Stradlater is too much of an egotist, too much of a sexual predator, to appreciate a nice, sensitive, vulnerable girl like Jane. Holden feels protective and somewhat possessive of her. He knows exactly how Stradlater is going to behave with her when he gets he in the car, and he doesn’t know whether Jane can cope with such an aggressive and experienced young man. Holden’s strong feelings about Jane are revealed by the way he starts a fight with an opponent he can’t possibly beat. Stradlater is rather stupid. He can’t even understand why Holden should be angry at him. He thinks Holden must be a little bit crazy. Nobody can really understand Holden very well, with the possible exceptions of Jane Gallagher and his little sister Phoebe.

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Why does Holden fight with Stradlater in The Catcher in the Rye?

The first thing that upsets Holden before the fight is Stradlater's reaction to the essay about Allie's baseball glove which Holden keeps with him. The glove is covered with Allie's poems and is probably the best keepsake That Holden has of his brother.

The other thing that is bothering Holden is the thought of Stradlater being alone with Jane Gallagher. Holden was obviously very fond of Jane and shows some irritation when Stradlater refers to her as "Jean". Holden asks Stradlater "What'd you do?" "Give her the time in Ed Banky's goddam car?"  Holden says his voice was "shaking something awful". Holden is starting to unravel because of the rejection of his very personal essay and the thought of Jane Gallagher being treated badly by Stradlater so he tries to punch Stradlater which begins the fight.

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What does Holden's fight with Stradlater in The Catcher in the Rye reveal about his character?

In chapter six, Stradlater takes Jane, for whom Holden has a soft spot, out on a date. The whole time they are out, Holden gets himself more and more worked up, thinking that Stradlater would take advantage of Jane. To add insult to injury, when Stradlater gets back, he tells Holden that he didn't like the essay which Holden had written for him.

To make matters worse, Stradlater gets evasive when Holden tries to ask him how the evening went, adding to Holden's impression that something untoward had happened between Stradlater and Jane. At this point, all hell breaks loose in Holden's mind, and he hits Stradlater.

If I had to pick two words from this scene to describe Holden's character, they would be impulsive and jealous. The fact that Stradlater and Jane are out having a good time has clearly gotten under Holden's skin, and the fact that he had a history with Jane doubtless played a part in this. However, he had no right to allow his jealousy to cloud his responses to Stradlater.

Holden shows off his impulsiveness in a negative way when he starts a fight with Stradlater, simultaneously taking a swing at him and verbally assaulting him. This was a complete overreaction to assumptions that he was making about Jane and Stradlater's date.

As the old saying goes, jealously makes you nasty, and it is apparent that Holden did not approve of Jane—for whom he clearly has some residual feelings—spending time with Stradlater.

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What does Holden's fight with Stradlater in The Catcher in the Rye reveal about his character?

In chapter 6, Holden's roommate Stradlater comes back from his date with Jane Gallagher, a girl Holden genuinely cares about and has a history with, and Holden cannot stop thinking about how Stradlater probably gave "her the time in Ed Banky’s goddam car." Holden incessantly asks Stradlater numerous questions about their date and Stradlater clearly does not want to elaborate on his time with Jane Gallagher. Holden then experiences a mixture of emotions, including jealousy, anxiety, and anger. Holden cares about Jane and has a difficult time picturing Stradlater hooking up with her on their date. Seemingly out of nowhere, Holden takes a swing at Stradlater that glances off the side of his head. Stradlater then slams Holden to the ground and ends up pinning him down with his knees on Holden's chest. Holden continues insulting Stradlater, who ends the fight by punching him in the face. Overall, Holden's overreaction to Stradlater's date with Jane Gallagher portrays him as an unhinged, passionate adolescent, who has a difficult time appropriately expressing his emotions.

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What does Holden's fight with Stradlater in The Catcher in the Rye reveal about his character?

The episode illustrates just how alienated Holden is from society. Stradlater's "crime" in Holden's eyes is being a fully paid-up member of that society, with all the "phoniness" that entails. There's a twinge of jealousy here, expressive of a general immaturity on Holden's part. Stradlater's insinuations over what he got up to with Jane Gallagher make Holden feel kind of left out. Holden's reaction is way over the top; his repeatedly calling Stradlater a moron tells us more about Holden than it does about his sworn enemy.

Holden knows full well how different he is from everyone else, how distant and apart he is from a society he neither cares for nor understands. But he doesn't like to be reminded of that fact—to have someone rub it in, as it were—especially not by a grade-A phony like Stradlater.

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What does Holden's fight with Stradlater in The Catcher in the Rye reveal about his character?

In the novel "Catcher In The Rye" by J D Salinger, the author shows the intense dislike that Holden Caulfield shows towards fellow school mate Stradlater. Holden seems to be of the opinion that Stradlater is a "phony" - now he thinks he is a "moron" as well.

Caulfield seems to think that Stradlater (and all the other rich boys except himself) are part of a fake establishment structure which he wants no part of. He thinks that in reality Stradlater is a "secret slob." He feels superior. He has the typical adolescent difficulty in expressing himself,only worse. S when he finds out about Stradlater's episode with "his" girl, he cannot get his feelings out quick enough which results in a fight. He has to resort to repetition, calling Stradlater the same name repeatedly. This demonstrates Holden's arrogance/insecurity.

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What does Holden's fight with Stradlater in The Catcher in the Rye reveal about his character?

This fight happens in Chapter 6.  It is caused by the fact that Stradlater is implying that he had sex with Jane Gallagher, or at least went and made out with her in the coach's car.  The fight tells us a couple of things, in my opinion.

First, it tells us that Holden has this old fashioned view of women.  He thinks that it is his place to try to fight someone who has been making out with a girl he likes.  He is either being chivalrous (nice interpretation) or very possessive -- implying she belongs to him.

Second, it tells us that Holden is really immature.  He keeps calling Stradlater a moron.  He says Stradlater is a moron because he doesn't want to discuss things.  But it's not clear why Stradlater should talk about what exactly he did in the car with Jane.  At any rate, Holden just keeps calling him a moron over and over, which seems pretty immature to me.

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What does Holden's fight with Stradlater in The Catcher in the Rye reveal about his character?

Holden has the idea that he is cowardly, but when he starts a fight with Stradlater he shows the reader, if not himself, that he can be courageous under the right circumstances. Stradlater is not only bigger and stronger than Holden but one of the school's superior athletes.

Ed Banky was the basketball coach at Pencey. Old Stradlater was one of his pets, because he was the center on the team, and Ed Banky always let him borrow his car when he wanted it.

This is not the only time Holden shows courage. He stands up to the bellhop on principle, refusing to pay him an extra five dollars extortion money, although Maurice is an older man, obviously much stronger and tougher, and Holden is alone in a strange hotel.

In both cases Holden has altercations with men who are bigger, stronger, and tougher than he is, because he is acting emotionally and on impulse.

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What does Holden's fight with Stradlater in The Catcher in the Rye reveal about his character?

Holden picks a fight with Stradlater over Jane, a girl who Holden likes and with whom Stradlater has a date. Stradlater does nothing to antagonise Holden directly but Holden deliberately attacks him anyway. This shows that Jane really does mean quite a lot to Holden, as he can't bear the thought of anyone else dating her - certainly not someone like Stradlater who Holden thinks is very conceited. Holden is worried that Stradlater won't treat her properly. This altercation also shows that Holden acts rather immaturely. He may be right to be concerned about Stradlater's treatment of girls but he could have tried discussing things in a more adult manner instead of just physically lashing out at him.
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What is Stradlater's criticism of Holden in The Catcher in the Rye?

Before Stadlater goes on his date with Jane Gallagher, he asks Holden if he can write his English composition for him. Holden agrees to write the composition and Stradlater tells him that it needs to be descriptive about something like a room or house. Instead of writing about a specific room or building, Holden writes about his deceased brother Allie's baseball glove. Allie's glove has various poems written all over it and is something Holden deeply cherishes. Despite Stradlater's directions, Holden proceeds to write the composition describing his brother's unique glove. When Stradlater returns from his date, he takes a look at Holden's composition and says, "For Chrissake, Holden. This is about a goddam baseball glove" (Salinger, 22). Stradlater proceeds to criticize Holden's ability to listen and follow directions. Stradlater also tells Holden,

"You always do everything backasswards...No wonder you're flunking the hell out of here...You don't do one damn thing the way you're supposed to. I mean it. Not one damn thing" (Stradlater, 22).

Holden responds by ripping up his composition and throwing it in the garbage. A few moments later, Holden begins to ask Stradlater about his date with Jane Gallagher and the two boys end up getting into a brief physical altercation.

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What is Stradlater's criticism of Holden in The Catcher in the Rye?

While Stradlater is on his date with Jane, Holden agrees to write an essay for him. But instead of fulfilling the requirements for the assignment, Holden writes a lengthy reflection on his deceased brother's baseball glove. When he returns and reads the essay, Stradlater is furious, and cites the paper as evidence that Holden is incapable of following rules. "No wonder you're flunking...out of here," he tells Holden, who responds by ripping the paper out of his hands and tearing it to pieces. The incident escalates into a brawl between the two roommates when Holden persistently asks him what happened on his date.

Source: J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye (New York: Bantam Books, 1965) 41.

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