Chapter 3 Notes from The Catcher in the Rye

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The Catcher in the Rye Chapter 3

Holden's got a matter-of-fact and non-self-deluded way of analyzing himself, and admits that he told a lie to get out of Mr. Spencer's company, and also that this is pretty characteristic, he'll tell a lie rather than suffer through almost any situation.

He heads back to his dorm room at Pencey, and tells a story about Ossenburger, the alumni after whom his dorm is named. This story seems to capture for Holden all of the absurdities of Pencey. Ossenburger, who made his riches in the undertaking business, came back to his old school to make a solemn speech about how God helped him succeed, and this speech was interrupted when one student let out a big fart. Holden gets a kick out of this and sees it as poetic justice. Ossenburger is a phony, and nothing in his speech was worth hearing, anyway.

Topic Tracking: Phonies 2

Back in his room in Ossenburger Hall, Holden takes out a novel and begins reading. Holden is surprisingly earnest about reading for a student who's being kicked out of school, and says, "I'm quite illiterate, but I read a lot." Chapter 3, pg. 18

Topic Tracking: Lies and Imagination 2

The dorm is nearly empty, as everyone is at the big football game. Holden's enjoying his solitude, and also seems rather tickled by his new red hunting hat, which he bought earlier that day in New York. This pleasant solitude is wrecked, however, when Holden's next door neighbor, the gangly and pimply Ackley, enters the room uninvited. Holden tries to be fair in his initial description of Ackley. But the more he chronicles Ackley's behavior--how he interrupts Holden's reading by walking around the room, picks up things and puts them back in the wrong place and laughs at Holden's expense--the more of a slob and a jerk Ackley seems. Ackley hates most everyone according to Holden, but Holden accepts him to some degree and does a few small things for him, such unpacking his scissors so Ackley can cut his nails. Ackley truly dislikes Holden's roommate, Stradlater, though. When Stradlater hurries into the room to prepare for a date, Ackley quickly exits, despite the fact Stradlater gives him a civil 'hello.'

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