Salinger scares up a perfect summation of adolescence in the initial scenes between Holden and his roommate, Stradlater.
Stradlater, who is obviously the ladies man that Holden is not, reveals he has a date with a girl who says she knows Holden:
“ ‘I’m thinking … Uh, Jean Gallagher.’
“Boy, I nearly dropped dead when he said that.
“ ‘Jane Gallagher,’ I said. I even got up from the washbowl when he said that. I damn near dropped dead.”
Holden is overcome with excitement, but at the same time declines to go downstairs and say hi to her.
“ ‘I’m not in the mood right now,’ I said. I wasn’t either. You have to be in the mood for those things.”
More, obviously, is behind his reluctance than not being in the mood. And plenty is behind the rage he unleashes on Stradlater later over the prospect of what Stradlater might have done with Jane on the date — especially since the “very sexy bastard” doesn’t even care how she lines up her kings when she plays checkers.
Illogical and conflicting reactions that make perfect sense. Those scenes are one example, I think, of why ‘Catcher’ will always be the standard for coming of age novels.
There are many places in the book that capture that volatile period in life. What are some that struck you? How about moments in other coming-of-age tales?