IRJE: Jan. 15 (The Catcher in the Rye)

In The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger, Holden Caulfield is a teenage boy living at Pencey Preparatory School. He and another boy there, Mal, decide to go to the movies on the weekend, as neither have anything else to do.

I ask Mal if he minded if Ackley came along with us. The reason I asked was because Ackley never did anything on Saturday night, except stay in his room and squeeze his pimples or something. (p. 41).

Shortly before this, Holden spends quite a long time explaining all the reasons why he is not at all fond of Ackley. He says that Ackley is unkempt, gross, inconsiderate, and rude. I don’t understand why, then, he would ask Ackley, whom he dislikes so much, to the movies. The reason he states in the citation above makes it seem like he invites Ackley because he feels bad for him. I, however, cannot ever imagine being so annoyed by somebody, and still being willing to invite them anywhere with me. So far throughout the book, I have found this numerous times– I rarely understand why Holden does, thinks, or says the things he does.

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One thought on “IRJE: Jan. 15 (The Catcher in the Rye)”

  1. You have the answer: Holden “feels bad” for Ackley. He understands that Ackley has no friends, is lonely, and that no one else will invite him anywhere. His sympathy (and empathy?) for Ackley overcomes his annoyance. His invitation is an act of kindness.

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