American Literature books summary
to letters during one of his many stays in the hospital. Eventually,
military intelligence believes Washington Irving to be the name of a covert
insubordinate, and two C.I.D. (Criminal Investigation Division) men are
dispatched to ferret him out of the squadron.
Luciana - A beautiful girl Yossarian meets, sleeps with, and falls in
love with during a brief period in Rome.
Mudd - Generally referred to as "the dead man in Yossarian's tent,"
Mudd was a squadron member who was killed in action before he could be
processed as an official member of the squadron. As a result, he is listed
as never having arrived, and no one has the authority to move his
belongings out of Yossarian's tent.
Lieutenant Scheisskopf - Later Colonel Scheisskopf and eventually
General Scheisskopf. He helps train Yossarian's squadron in America and
shows an unsettling passion for elaborate military parades. ("Scheisskopf"
is German for "shithead.")
The Soldier in White - A body completely covered with bandages in
Yossarian and Dunbar's ward in the Pianosa hospital.
Snowden - The young gunner whose death over Avignon shattered
Yossarian's courage and opened his eyes to the madness of the war. Snowden
died in Yossarian's arms with his entrails splattered all over Yossarian's
uniform, a trauma which is gradually revealed throughout the novel.
Corporal Whitcomb - Later Sergeant Whitcomb, the chaplain's atheist
assistant. Corporal Whitcomb hates the chaplain for holding back his
career, and makes the chaplain a suspect in the Washington Irving scandal.
ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen - The mail clerk at the Twenty-Seventh Air Force
Headquarters, Wintergreen is able to intercept and forge documents, and
thus wields enormous power in the Air Force. He continually goes AWOL
(Absent Without Leave), and is continually punished with loss of rank.
General Peckem - The ambitious special operations general who plots
incessantly to take over General Dreedle's position.
Kid Sampson - A pilot in the squadron. Kid Sampson is sliced in half by
McWatt's propeller when McWatt jokingly buzzes the beach with his plane.
Lieutenant Colonel Korn - Colonel Cathcart's wily, condescending
Colonel Moodus - General Dreedle's son-in-law. General Dreedle despises
Colonel Moodus, and enjoys watching Chief White Halfoat bust him in the
Flume - Chief White Halfoat's old roommate who is so afraid of having
his throat slit while he sleeps that he has taken to living in the forest.
Dori Duz - A friend of Scheisskopf's wife. Together, they sleep with
all the men training under him while he is stationed in the U.S.
The Catcher in the Rye
The Catcher in the Rye begins with the statement by the narrator, Holden
Caulfield, that he will not tell about his "lousy" childhood and "all that
David Copperfield kind of crap" because such details bore him. He describes
his parents as nice, but "touchy as hell." Instead, Holden vows to tell
about what happened to him around last Christmas, before he had to take it
easy. He also mentions his brother, D.B., who is nearby in Hollywood "being
a prostitute." Holden was a student at Pencey Prep in Agerstown,
Pennsylvania, and he mocks their advertisements, which claim to have been
molding boys into clear-thinking young men since 1888. Holden begins his
story during the Saturday of the football game with Saxon Hall, which was
supposed to be a very big deal at Pencey. Selma Thurmer, the daughter of
the headmaster, is at the game. Although she is unattractive and a bit
pathetic, to Holden she seems nice enough, for she does not lavish praise
upon her father. Holden, the manager of the fencing team, had just returned
from New York with the team. Although they were supposed to have a meet
with the McBurney School, Holden left the foils on the subway. The fencing
team was angry at Holden, but he thought the entire event was funny in a
way. Holden does not attend the football game, instead choosing to say
goodbye to Spencer, his history teacher, who knew that Holden was not
coming back to Pencey. Holden had recently been expelled for failing four
Holden finds the Spencer's house somewhat depressing, smelling of Vicks
Nose Drops and clearly indicating the old age of its inhabitants. Mr.
Spencer sits in a ratty old bathrobe, and asks Holden to sit down. Holden
tells him how Dr. Thurmer told him about how "life is a game" and you
should "play it according to the rules" when he expelled him. Mr. Spencer
tells him that Dr. Thurmer was correct, and Holden agrees with him, but
thinks instead that life is only a game if you are on the right side.
Holden tells Mr. Spencer that his parents will be upset, for this is his
fourth private school so far. Holden tells that, at sixteen, he is over six
feet tall and has some gray hair, but still acts like a child, as others
often tell him. Spencer says that he met with Holden's parents, who are
"grand" people, but Holden dismisses that word as "phony." Spencer then
tells Holden that he failed him in History because he knew nothing, and
even reads his exam essay about the Egyptians to him. At the end of the
exam, Holden left a note for Mr. Spencer, admitting that he is not
interested in the Egyptians, despite Spencer's interesting lectures, and
that he will accept if Mr. Spencer fails him. As Holden and Mr. Spencer
continue to talk, Holden's mind wanders; he thinks about ice skating in
Central Park. When Mr. Spencer asks why Holden quit Elkton Hills, he tells
Mr. Spencer that it is a long story, but explains in narration that the
people there were phonies. He mentions the particular quality of the
headmaster, Mr. Haas, who would be charming toward everyone but the "funny-
looking parents." Holden claims he has little interest in the future, and
assures Mr. Spencer that he is just going through a phase. As Holden
leaves, he hears Mr. Spencer say "good luck," a phrase that he particularly
Holden claims that he is the most terrific liar one could meet. He admits
that he lied to Spencer by telling him that he had to go to the gym. At
Pencey, Holden lives in the Ossenburger Memorial Wing of the new dorms.
Ossenburger is a wealthy undertaker who graduated from the school; Holden
tells how false Ossenburger seemed when he gave a speech exalting faith in
Jesus and how another student farted during the ceremony. Holden returns to
his room, where he puts on a red hunting hat they he bought in New York.
Holden discusses the books that he likes to read: he prefers Ring Lardner,
but is now reading Dinesen's Out of Africa. Ackley, a student whose room is
connected to Holden's, barges in on Holden. Holden describes Ackley as
having a terrible personality and an even worse complexion. Holden tries to
ignore him, then pretends that he is blind to annoy Ackley. Ackley cuts his
nails right in front of Holden, and asks about Ward Stradlater, Holden's
roommate. Ackley claims that he hates Stradlater, that "goddamn
sonuvabitch," but Holden tells Ackley that he hates Stradlater for the
simple reason that Stradlater told him that he should actually brush his
teeth. Holden defends Stradlater, claiming that he is conceited, but still
generous. Stradlater arrives, and is friendly to Holden (in a phony sort of
way), and asks to borrow a jacket from Holden. Stradlater walks around
shirtless to show off his build.
Since he has nothing else to do, Holden goes down to the bathroom to chat
with Stradlater as he shaves. Stradlater, in comparison to Ackley, is a
"secret" slob, who would always shave with a rusty razor that he would
never clean. Stradlater is a "Yearbook" kind of handsome guy. He asks
Holden to write a composition for him for English. Holden realizes the
irony that he is flunking out of Pencey, yet is still asked to do work for
others. Stradlater insists, however, that Holden not write it too well, for
Hartzell knows that Holden is a hot-shot in English. On an impulse, Holden
gives Stradlater a half nelson, which greatly annoys Stradlater. Stradlater
talks about his date that night with Jane Gallagher. Although he cannot
even get her name correct, Holden knows her well, for she lived next door
to him several summers ago and they would play checkers together.
Stradlater barely listens as he fixes his hair with Holden's gel. Holden
asks Stradlater not to tell Jane that he got kicked out. He then borrows
Holden's hound's-tooth jacket and leaves. Ackley returns, and Holden is
actually glad to see him, for he takes his mind off of other matters.
On Saturday nights at Pencey the students are served steak; Holden believes
this occurs because parents visit on Sunday and students can thus tell them
that they had steak for dinner the previous night, as if it were a common
occurrence. Holden goes with Ackley and Mal Brossard into New York City to
see a movie, but since Ackley and Brossard had both seen that particular
Cary Grant comedy, they play pinball and get hamburgers instead. When they
return, Ackley remains in Holden's room, telling about a girl he had sex
with, but Holden knows that he is lying, for whenever he tells that same
story, the details always change. Holden tells him to leave so that he can
write Stradlater's composition. He writes about his brother Allie's
baseball mitt. Allie, born two years after Holden, died of leukemia in
1946. The night that Allie died, Holden broke all of the windows in his
garage with his fist.
Stradlater returned late that night, thanked Holden for the jacket and
asked if he did the composition for him. When Stradlater reads it, he gets
upset at Holden, for it is simply about a baseball glove. Since Stradlater
is upset, Holden tears up the composition. Holden starts smoking, just to
annoy Stradlater. Holden asks about the date, but Stradlater doesn't give
very much information, only that they spent most of the time in Ed Banky's
car. Finally he asks if Stradlater "gave her the time" there. Stradlater
says that the answer is a "professional secret," and Holden responds by
trying to punch Stradlater. Stradlater pushes him down and sits with his
knees on Holden's chest. He only lets Holden go when he agrees to say
nothing more about Stradlater's date. When he calls Stradlater a moron, he
knocks Holden out. Holden then goes to the bathroom to wash the blood off
his face. Even though he claims to be a pacifist, Holden enjoys the look of
blood on his face.
Ackley, who was awakened by the fight, comes in Holden's room to ask what
happened. He tells Holden that he is still bleeding and should put
something on his wounds. Holden asks if he can sleep in Ackley's room that
night, since his roommate is away for the weekend, but Ackley says that he
can't give him permission. Holden feels so lonesome that he wishes he were
dead. Holden worries that Stradlater had sex with Jane during their date,
because he knew that Stradlater was capable of seducing girls quickly.
Holden asks Ackley whether or not one has to be Catholic to join a
monastery. He then decides to leave Pencey immediately. He decides to take
a room in a hotel in New York and take it easy until Wednesday. He packs
ice skates that his mother had just sent him. The skates make him sad,
because they are not the kind that he wanted. According to Holden, his
mother has a way of making him sad whenever he receives a present. Holden
wakes up Woodruff, a wealthy student, and sells him his typewriter for
twenty bucks. Before he leaves, he yells "Sleep tight, ya morons."
Since it is too late to call a cab, Holden walks to the train station. On
the train, a woman gets on at Trenton and sits right beside him, even
though the train is nearly empty. She strikes up a conversation with him,
noticing the Pencey sticker on his suitcase, and says that her son, Ernest
Morrow, goes to Pencey as well. Holden remembers him as "the biggest
bastard that ever went to Pencey." Holden tells her that his name is Rudolf
Schmidt, the name of the Pencey janitor. Holden lies to Mrs. Morrow,
pretending that he likes Pencey and that he is good friends with Ernest.
She thinks that her son is Њsensitive,' an idea that Holden finds
laughable, but Holden continues to tell lies about Ernest, such as that he
would have been elected class president, but he was too modest to accept
the nomination. Holden asks if she would like to join him for a cocktail in
the club car. Finally, he tells her that he is leaving Pencey early because
he has to have an operation; he claims he has a tumor on his brain. When
she invites Holden to visit during the summer, he says that he will be
spending the summer in South America with his grandmother.
When Holden reaches New York, he does not know whom to call. He considers
calling his kid sister, Phoebe, but she would be asleep and his parents
would overhear. He also considers calling Jane Gallagher or Sally Hayes,
another friend, but finally does not call anybody. He gets into a cab and
absentmindedly gives the driver his home address, but soon realizes that he
does not want to get home. He goes to the Edmond Hotel instead, where he
stays in a shabby room. He looks out of the window and could see the other
side of the hotel. From this view he can see other rooms; in one of them, a
man takes off his clothes and puts on ladies' clothing, while in another a
man and a woman spit their drinks at one another. Holden thinks that he's
the "biggest sex maniac you ever saw," but then claims that he does not
understand sex at all. He then thinks of calling Jane Gallagher but again
decides against it, and instead considers calling a woman named Faith
Cavendish, who was formerly a burlesque stripper and is not quite a
prostitute. When he calls her, he continues to ask whether or not they
could get a drink together, but she turns him down at every opportunity.
Holden describes more about his family in this chapter. His sister Phoebe
is the smartest little kid that he has ever met, and Holden himself is the
only dumb one. Phoebe reminds Holden of Allie in physical appearance, but
she is very emotional. She writes books about Hazle Weatherfield, a girl
detective. Holden goes down to the Lavender Room, a nightclub in the hotel.
The band there is putrid and the people are mostly old. When he attempts to
order a drink, the waiter asks for identification, but since he does not
have proof of his age, he begs the waiter to put rum in his Coke. Holden
"gives the eye" to three women at another table, in particular a blonde
one. He asks the blonde one to dance, and Holden judges her to be an
excellent dancer, but a moron. Holden is offended when the woman, Bernice
Krebs, asks his age and when he uses profanity in front of her. He tells
these women, who are visiting from Seattle, that his name is Jim Steele.
Since they keep mentioning how they saw Peter Lorre that day, Holden claims
that he just saw Gary Cooper, who just left the Lavender Room. Holden
thinks that the women are sad for wanting to go to the first show at Radio
City Music Hall.
Upon leaving the Lavender Room, Holden begins to think of Jane Gallagher
and worries that Stradlater seduced her. Holden met Jane when his mother
became irritated that the Gallagher's Doberman pinscher relieved itself on
their lawn. Several days later, he introduced himself to her, but it took
some time before he could convince her that he didn't care what their dog
did. Holden reminisces about Jane's smile, and admits that she is the only
person whom he showed Allie's baseball mitt. The one time that he and Jane
did anything sexual together was after she had a fight with Mr. Cudahy, her
father-in-law. Holden suspected that he had tried to "get wise with" Jane.
Holden decides to go to Ernie's, a nightclub in Greenwich village that D.B.
used to frequent before he went to Hollywood.
In the cab to Ernie's, Holden chats with Horwitz, the cab driver. He asks
what happens to the ducks in Central Park during the winter, but the two
get into an argument when Horwitz thinks that Holden's questions are
stupid. Ernie's is filled with prep school and college jerks, as Holden
calls them. Holden notices a Joe Yale-looking guy with a beautiful girl; he
is telling the girl how a guy in his dorm nearly committed suicide. A
former girlfriend of Holden's brother, D.B., recognizes him. The girl,
Lillian Simmons, asks about D.B. and introduces Holden to a Navy commander
she is dating. Holden notices how she blocks the aisle in the place as she
drones on about how handsome Holden has become. Rather than spend time with
Lillian Simmons, Holden leaves.
Holden walks back to his hotel, although it is forty-one blocks away. He
considers how he would confront a person who had stolen his gloves.
Although he would not do so aggressively, he wishes that he could threaten
the person who stole them. Holden finally concludes that he would yell at
the thief but not have the courage to hit him. Holden reminisces about
drinking with Raymond Goldfarb at Whooton. While back at the hotel, Maurice
the elevator man asks Holden if he is interested in a little tail tonight.
He offers a prostitute for five dollars. When she arrives, she does not
believe that he is twenty-two, as he claims. Holden finally tells the
prostitute, Sunny, that he just had an operation on his clavichord, as an
excuse not to have sex. She is angry, but he still pays her, even though
they argue over the price. He gives her five dollars, although she demands
After the prostitute leaves, Holden sits in a chair and talks aloud to his
brother Allie, which he often does whenever he is depressed. Finally he
gets in bed and feels like praying, although he is "sort of an atheist." He
claims that he likes Jesus, but the Disciples annoy him. Other than Jesus,
the Biblical character he likes best is the lunatic who lived in the tombs
and cut himself with stones. Holden tells that his parents disagree on
religion and none of his siblings attend church. Maurice and Sunny knock on
the door, demanding more money. Holden argues with Maurice and threatens to
call the cops, but Maurice says that his parents would find out that he
spent the night with a whore. As Holden starts to cry, Sunny takes the
money from his wallet. Maurice punches him in the stomach before leaving.
After Maurice is gone, Holden imagines that he had taken a bullet and would
shoot Maurice in the stomach. Holden feels like committing suicide by
jumping out the window, but he wouldn't want people looking at his gory
body on the sidewalk.
Holden calls Sally Hayes, who goes to the Mary A. Woodruff School.
According to Holden, Sally seems quite intelligent because she knows a good
deal about the theater and literature, but is actually quite stupid. He
makes a date to meet Sally for a matinee, but she continues to chat with
Holden on the phone despite his lack of interest. Holden tells that his
father is a wealthy corporation attorney and his mother has not been
healthy since Allie died. At Grand Central Station, where Holden checks in
his bags after leaving the hotel, he sees two nuns with cheap suitcases.
Holden reminisces about his roommate at Elkton Hills, Dick Slagle who had
cheap suitcases and would complain about how everything was bourgeois. He
chats with the nuns and gives them a donation. He wonders what nuns think
about sex when he discusses Romeo and Juliet with them.
Before meeting Sally Hayes, Holden goes to find a record called "Little
Shirley Beans" for Phoebe by Estelle Fletcher. As he walks through the
city, he hears a poor kid playing with his parents, singing the song "If a
body catch a body coming through the rye." Hearing the song makes Holden
feel less depressed. Holden buys tickets for I Know My Love, a play
starring the Lunts. He knew that Sally would enjoy it, for it was supposed
to be very sophisticated. Holden goes to the Mall, where Phoebe usually
plays when she is in the park, and sees a couple of kids playing there. He
asks if any of them know Phoebe. They do, and claim that she is probably in
the Museum of Natural History. He reminisces about going to the Museum when
he was in grade school. He remembers how he would go there often with his
class, but while the exhibits would be exactly the same, he would be
different each time. Holden considers going to the museum to see Phoebe,
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