THE CATCHER IN THE RYE by J.D. Salinger. TO. MY. MOTHER. 1. If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was. Full text of "Catcher on bedsramlofosse.gq (PDFy mirror)". See other formats. CATCHER ON RYE ANDREW HUNTER Catcher on Rye by Andrew Hunter TO MY MOTHER 1. Bloom’s GUIDES J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye CURRENTLY AVAILABLE The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn All th Bloom’s Guides: The Catcher in the Rye Copyright © by Infobase Publishing Introduction © by Harold Bloom All rights reserved. For information.
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PDF Drive is your search engine for PDF files. THE CATCHER IN THE RYE by J D Salinger () Salinger's last published work, "Hapworth 16, www. Salinger's THE CATCHER IN THE RYE J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye leaves most readers wondering whether or not Holden Caulfield finally succeeds . PDF | The transformation of industrial city into modern city entailed the change in This is the context into which Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye was born and.
What the hecks his name? He was in that pitcher with Mel-vine Douglas. The one that was Mel-vine Douglass kid brother. You know who I mean In , naming that name cannot be innocent, because of its as- sociations. Douglas, a prominent Hollywood liberal who in supported the Hollywood Ten and in distanced himself from them was, more importantly, the husband of Helen Gahagan Douglas, the Democratic Con- gresswoman whom Richard Nixon defeated in the contest for the California Senate seat.
Nixons race, grounded in red-baiting, innuendos, and guilt by association, attracted national attention and showed, according to McCarthy biographer David Oshinsky, that McCarthyism was not the exclusive prop- erty of Joe McCarthy If Caulfield is guilty by virtue of his association with Melvyn Douglas, then guilty of what?
Consorting with prostitutes? Naming names? Or is it of his own hypocrisy, of his recognition, also inscribed in his rhetoric, that he hasnt told the truth in that he actually loves the movies, emulates them, uses them as a constant frame of reference. The first paragraph of the book begins if you really want to know the truth and ends with the sentences: If theres one thing I hate, its the movies. Dont even mention them to me. Despite this injunction, Caulfields speech is full of them.
He acts out movie roles alone and in front of others, uses them as a pool of allusion to help articulate his own behavior, and goes to see them, even when he believes they will be unsatisfactory.
In their stead come rituals of loyalty, rituals which do not manifest truth but replace it. In presenting advertised, televised, confessionals, which were prepared, written, and rehearsed, and then were performed by real-life actors, the HUAC Hollywood investigations not only replicated the movies, but they also denied the movies distance and benignity, in short their claim to artificiality.
The silver and cathode-ray screen is everywhere and nowhere, presenting an act of truth-telling hard to distinguish from its former fab- rications, stories for the screen which may or may not have been encoded, subversive messages.
So too in real lifethe viewers of these confessions may have been duped, made inadvertently to play a subversive role, followed an encoded script produced by a secret conspiracy of the sort theyre used to seeing in the movies. And of course the movies can be believed, for if they cannot what is all the worry about? Why bother investigating the harmless? One cannot escape such a message by discovering the truth, but only by performing the ritual that fills the space created by the impossibility of such a discovery.
In this light, perhaps, Phoebe Caulfields role in her school play should be read. It stinks but Im Benedict Arnold.
I have practically the biggest part. It starts out when Im dying. This ghost comes in on Christmas Eve and asks me if Im ashamed and everything. For betraying my country and everything. The former traitor now starring in a morality play that honors the state through a form of Christian ritual, the goal of which is not the discovery of truth, but the public, educational demonstration of loyal behavior, in which the fictions paragon of innocence and the nations historical symbol of perfidy validate one another by exchanging roles.
V Simple Truth and the Meaning of Testimony Phoebes play unites the two central loci for phonies in Caulfields speech, the worlds of entertainment and of education. In questioning the phoniness of all the schools and teachers he has seen, Caulfield again articulates doubts prevalent in the public consciousness, especially as he is most critical of the Eastern Intellectual Establishment. That establishment, with Harvard as its epitome, came to represent for the readers of Time, for example, a form of affluence and elitism that could not be trusted.
In their education section, the week of June 5, , for example, Time quoted I. Richards at length on college teaching: You are never quite sure if you are uttering words of inspired. Often you will find yourself incompetent enough to be fired at once if anybody was intelligent enough to see you as you are. Am I, or am I not, a fraud? That is a question that is going to mean more and more to you year by year. At first it seems agonizing; after that it becomes familiar and habitual.
Richards gains credibility by confessing he was a fraud. The central issue, many faculty argued, was that academic personnel were being judged by non- academic standards. Intelligence thus signified the capacity for fraud: only some- one intelligent enough to see them as they are had something to hide. Be- cause they knew more, intellectuals were more likely to know something they should confess, and not confessing hence signified probable disloyalty rather than innocence.
Murray like Dr. Bin- ger and Hiss was a Harvard graduate: He backed up his colleague, Binger. He had never seen Cham- bers but this did not faze him. He had psychoanalyzed Adolph Hitler in absentia, correctly predicting his suicide If, filtered through Times simplifying voice, these doctors seemed fool- ish accomplices, Hiss himself came to stand for everything that needed ex- posure and rejection. Thus the past existed to be recanted, not recounted. The recounted pastthe truth of ones pastbecame living a lie, while recanting revealed Truth, discovered not in past actions but in ideological enlightenment, enlightenment which reveals that ones life was a lie.
Analysis is intellectualized lying. Time had suggested in its treatment of Hisss authorities, part of the Intellectual conspiracy that did not revere the Truth but rather suggested that facts could be contravened by an unseen, subversive presence, knowable only to a trained elite whom the general population had to trust without evidence. For Time, truth was less ambiguous, existing in a transparent connection between physical phenom- ena and accepted beliefs, and with its authority lying outside the speaking subject.
Hiss had transgressed by seeking to intervene, to analyze, to apply principles not grounded in Truth but in the trained intellect of a fallen mor- tal, fallen because he believed in the power of human intervention, the ability of the intellect to discern and interpret.
This too is Caulfields failing, and he must recognize the error of locat- ing himself as the discoverer, interpreter and arbiter of truth and phoniness.
It has the quality of testimonythe taking of oaths and the giving of evidence to sup- port an agenda of charges. And like much of the most publicized testimony of its day, it has no legal status. As Navasky pointed out about the Hollywood hearings: [T]he procedural safeguards. And, of course, the targets from the entertainment business had commited no crime.
Although sometimes masked as such, it rarely functioned in the way Aristotle defined the concept. Rather it more often resembled testimony in the religious sense of confessing publicly ones sins. Caulfields speech thus simultaneously seeped in conventions of both forensic testimony and spiritual, reveals the incompatibility of the two, in terms of their intended audience, their intended effect, and their relationship to the speaker.
Most important, forensic testimony presumes truth as something arrived at through the interaction of social and rhetorical contract, whereas spiritual testimony presumes an external authority for truth; its rhetoric re- veals the Truth, doing so in such a way as to exempt the speech from judg- ment and present the speaker not as peer but as paragon. These distinctions apply particularly to the concept of incrimination. A witness giving forensic testimony always risks self-incrimination; recognizing this, our laws allow the witness to abstain from answering questions.
The para- gon, who gives spiritual testimony, however, is above such self-incrimination; the paragon knows the Truth and has nothing to fear. Exercising the legal protection against self-incrimination as many HUAC witnesses chose to do meant the speaker was offering forensic testimony not spiritual, had thus not found the Truth, and therefore could not be trusted.
Designed to protect the individual from self-incrimination, the Fifth Amendment then became the instrument of that self-incrimination. Since that claim became self-incriminating, they downloadd silence by suggesting guilt. They thus internalized the dramatic conflict between social contract and personal loyalty, with the goal not of catharsis but silence.
Autobiography, always potentially incriminating, had become recontextualized as testimony, but testimony itself had been freed of its evidenciary contexts and become an unbound truth-of-otherness. Only seniors were allowed to bring girls with them.
It was a terrible school, no matter how you looked at it. I like to be somewhere at least where you can see a few girls around once in a while, even if they're only scratching their arms or blowing their noses or even just giggling or something. Old Selma Thurmer-she was the headmaster's daughter- showed up at the games quite often, but she wasn't exactly the type that drove you mad with desire. She was a pretty nice girl, though. I sat next to her once in the bus from Agerstown and we sort of struck up a conversation.
I liked her. She had a big nose and her nails were all bitten down and bleedy- looking and she had on those damn falsies that point all over the place, but you felt sort of sorry for her. What I liked about her, she didn't give you a lot of horse manure about what a great guy her father was.
She probably knew what a phony baloney slob he was. The reason I was standing way up on Thomsen Hill, instead of down at the game, was because I'd just got back from New York with the fencing team.
I was the goddam manager of the fencing team. Very big deal. Only, we didn't have the meet. I left all the foils and equipment and stuff on the goddam subway. It wasn't all my fault. I had to keep getting up to look at this map, so we'd know where to get off.
So we got back to Pencey around two-thirty instead of around dinnertime. The whole team ostracized me the whole way back on the train. It was pretty funny, in a way. The other reason I wasn't down at the game was because I was on my way to say good-by to old Spencer, my history teacher. He had the grippe, and I figured I probably wouldn't see him again till Christmas vacation started.
He wrote me this note saying he wanted to see me before I went home. He knew I wasn't coming back to Pencey. I forgot to tell you about that. They kicked me out. I wasn't supposed to come back after Christmas vacation on account of I was flunking four subjects and not applying myself and all.
They gave me frequent warning to start applying myself— especially around midterms, when my parents came up for a conference with old Thurmer-but I didn't do it. So I got the ax.
They give guys the ax quite frequently at Pencey. It has a very good academic rating, Pencey. It really does. Anyway, it was December and all, and it was cold as a witch's teat, especially on top of that stupid hill. I only had on my reversible and no gloves or anything.
The week before that, somebody 'd stolen my camel's-hair coat right out of my room, with my fur- lined gloves right in the pocket and all. Pencey was full of crooks. Quite a few guys came from these very wealthy families, but it was full of crooks anyway. The more expensive a school is, the more crooks it has— I'm not kidding. Anyway, I kept standing next to that crazy cannon, looking down at the game and freezing my ass off. Only, I wasn't watching the game too much.
What I was really hanging around for, I was trying to feel some kind of a good-by. I mean I've left schools and places I didn't even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don't care if it's a sad good- by or a bad goodby, but when I leave a place I like to know I'm leaving it. If you don't, you feel even worse. I was lucky. All of a sudden I thought of something that helped make me know I was getting the hell out. I suddenly remembered this time, in around October, that I and Robert Tichener and Paul Campbell were chucking a football around, in front of the academic building.
They were nice guys, especially Tichener. It was just before dinner and it was getting pretty dark out, but we kept chucking the ball around anyway. It kept getting darker and darker, and we could hardly see the ball any more, but we didn't want to stop doing what we were doing. Finally we had to.
The Catcher in the Rye.pdf
This teacher that taught biology, Mr. Zambesi, stuck his head out of this window in the academic building and told us to go back to the dorm and get ready for dinner. If I get a chance to remember that kind of stuff, I can get a good-by when I need one-at least, most of the time I can. As soon as I got it, I turned around and started running down the other side of the hill, toward old Spencer's house.
He didn't live on the campus. He lived on Anthony Wayne Avenue. I ran all the way to the main gate, and then I waited a second till I got my breath.
I have no wind, if you want to know the truth. I'm quite a heavy smoker, for one thing-that is, I used to be. They made me cut it out. Another thing, I grew six and a half inches last year. That's also how I practically got t. I'm pretty healthy, though.
Anyway, as soon as I got my breath back I ran across Route It was icy as hell and I damn near fell down. I don't even know what I was running for-I guess I just felt like it.
After I got across the road, I felt like I was sort of disappearing. It was that kind of a crazy afternoon, terrifically cold, and no sun out or anything, and you felt like you were disappearing every time you crossed a road. Boy, I rang that doorbell fast when I got to old Spencer's house. I was really frozen.
My ears were hurting and I could hardly move my fingers at all. Spencer opened, it. They didn't have a maid or anything, and they always opened the door themselves. They didn't have too much dough. Spencer said. Come in, dear! Are you frozen to death? She liked me. At least, I think she did. Boy, did I get in that house fast. She didn't hear me ask her how Mr.
Spencer was. She was sort of deaf. She hung up my coat in the hall closet, and I sort of brushed my hair back with my hand. I wear a crew cut quite frequently and I never have to comb it much. He over his grippe yet? Holden, he's behaving like a perfect--! He's in his room, dear. Go right in. They were both around seventy years old, or even more than that. They got a bang out of things, though-in a haif-assed way, of course. I know that sounds mean to say, but I don't mean it mean.
I just mean that I used to think about old Spencer quite a lot, and if you thought about him too much, you wondered what the heck he was still living for. I mean he was all stooped over, and he had very terrible posture, and in class, whenever he dropped a piece of chalk at the blackboard, some guy in the first row always had to get up and pick it up and hand it to him. That's awful, in my opinion. But if you thought about him just enough and not too much, you could figure it out that he wasn't doing too bad for himself.
For instance, one Sunday when some other guys and I were over there for hot chocolate, he showed us this old beat-up Navajo blanket that he and Mrs. Spencer'd bought off some Indian in Yellowstone Park.
You could tell old Spencer'd got a big bang out of downloading it.
That's what I mean. You take somebody old as hell, like old Spencer, and they can get a big bang out of downloading a blanket. His door was open, but I sort of knocked on it anyway , just to be polite and all. I could see where he was sitting. He was sitting in a big leather chair, all wrapped up in that blanket I just told you about. He looked over at me when I knocked. Come in, boy. It got on your nerves sometimes. The minute I went in, I was sort of sorry I'd come.
He was reading the Atlantic Monthly, and there were pills and medicine all over the place, and everything smelled like Vicks Nose Drops. It was pretty depressing. I'm not too crazy about sick people, anyway. What made it even more depressing, old Spencer had on this very sad, ratty old bathrobe that he was probably born in or something. I don't much like to see old guys in their pajamas and bathrobes anyway.
Their bumpy old chests are always showing. And their legs. Old guys' legs, at beaches and places, always look so white and unhairy. Thanks a lot. I'd have come over to say good-by anyway. He meant the bed. I sat down on it. That knocked him out. He started chuckling like a madman. Then he finally straightened himself out and said, "Why aren't you down at the game? I thought this was the day of the big game.
I was. Only, I just got back from New York with the fencing team," I said. Boy, his bed was like a rock. He started getting serious as hell. I knew he would. I guess I am. You never saw anybody nod as much in your life as old Spencer did. You never knew if he was nodding a lot because he was thinking and all, or just because he was a nice old guy that didn't know his ass from his elbow.
Thurmer say to you, boy? I understand you had quite a little chat. We really did. I was in his office for around two hours, I guess. And how you should play it according to the rules. He was pretty nice about it. I mean he didn't hit the ceiling or anything. He just kept talking about Life being a game and all. You know. Life is a game that one plays according to the rules. I know it is. I know it. Some game. If you get on the side where all the hot-shots are, then it's a game, all right— I'll admit that.
But if you get on the other side, where there aren't any hot-shots, then what's a game about it? No game. Thurmer written to your parents yet?
This is about the fourth school I've gone to. I shake my head quite a lot. I also say "Boy! Partly because I have a lousy vocabulary and partly because I act quite young for my age sometimes. I was sixteen then, and I'm seventeen now, and sometimes I act like I'm about thirteen. It's really ironical, because I'm six foot two and a half and I have gray hair.
I really do. The one side of my head— the right side— is full of millions of gray hairs. I've had them ever since I was a kid. And yet I still act sometimes like I was only about twelve. Everybody says that, especially my father. It's partly true, too, but it isn't all true.
People always think something's all true. I don't give a damn, except that I get bored sometimes when people tell me to act my age. Sometimes I act a lot older than I am— I really do -but people never notice it.
People never notice anything. Old Spencer started nodding again.
The Catcher In The Rye
He also started picking his nose. He made out like he was only pinching it, but he was really getting the old thumb right in there. I guess he thought it was all right to do because it was only me that was in the room. I didn't care, except that it's pretty disgusting to watch somebody pick their nose. Then he said, "I had the privilege of meeting your mother and dad when they had their little chat with Dr.
Thurmer some weeks ago. They're grand people. They're very nice. There's a word I really hate. It's a phony baloney. I could puke every time I hear it. Then all of a sudden old Spencer looked like he had something very good, something sharp as a tack, to say to me.
He sat up more in his chair and sort of moved around. It was a false alarm, though. All he did was lift the Atlantic Monthly off his lap and try to chuck it on the bed, next to me. He missed. It was only about two inches away, but he missed anyway. I got up and picked it up and put it down on the bed.
All of a sudden then, I wanted to get the hell out of the room. I could feel a terrific lecture coming on. I didn't mind the idea so much, but I didn't feel like being lectured to and smell Vicks Nose Drops and look at old Spencer in his pajamas and bathrobe all at the same time.
I really didn't. It started, all right. He said it pretty tough, too, for him. And how many are you failing in? It was the hardest bed I ever sat on. I mean I didn't have to do any work in English at all hardly, except write compositions once in a while. He hardly ever listened to you when you said something.
Boy, I know it. You couldn't help it. That's something that drives me crazy. When people say something twice that way, after you admit it the first time. Then he said it three times. I doubt very much if you opened your textbook even once the whole term. Did you? Tell the truth, boy. I didn't want to hurt his feelings. He was mad about history. On top of the pile. Bring it here, please.
Then I sat down on his cement bed again. Boy, you can't imagine how sorry I was getting that I'd stopped by to say good-by to him.
He started handling my exam paper like it was a turd or something. Would you care to hear what you had to say? He read it anyway, though. You can't stop a teacher when they want to do something. They just do it. The Egyptians were an ancient race of Caucasians residing in one of the northern sections of Africa. The latter as we all know is the largest continent in the Eastern Hemisphere.
I had to sit there and listen to that crap. It certainly was a dirty trick. The Egyptians are extremely interesting to us today for various reasons. Modern science would still like to know what the secret ingredients were that the Egyptians used when they wrapped up dead people so that their faces would not rot for innumerable centuries. This interesting riddle is still quitea challenge to modern science in the twentieth century.
He stopped reading and put my paper down. I was beginning to sort of hate him. You wouldn't think such an old guy would be so sarcastic and all. I said it very fast because I wanted to stop him before he started reading that out loud. But you couldn't stop him. He was hot as a firecracker. That is all I know about the Egyptians. I can't seem to get very interested in themalthough your lectures are very interesting.
It is all rightwith me if you flunk me though as I am flunking everything else except English anyway. He put my goddam paper down then and looked at me like he'd just beaten hell out of me in ping-pong or something.
I don't think I'll ever forgive him for reading me that crap out loud. I wouldn't've read it out loud to him if he'd written it— I really wouldn't. In the first place, I'd only written that damn note so that he wouldn't feel too bad about flunking me. I certainly don't," I said. I wished to hell he'd stop calling me "boy" all the time. He tried chucking my exam paper on the bed when he was through with it. Only, he missed again, naturally. I had to get up again and pick it up and put it on top of the Atlantic Monthly.
It's boring to do that every two minutes. So I shot the bull for a while. I told him I was a real moron, and all that stuff. I told him how I would've done exactly the same thing if I'd been in his place, and how most people didn't appreciate how tough it is being a teacher. That kind of stuff. The old bull. The funny thing is, though, I was sort of thinking of something else while I shot the bull. I was wondering if it would be frozen over when I got home, and if it was, where did the ducks go.
I was wondering where the ducks went when the lagoon got all icy and frozen over. I wondered if some guy came in a truck and took them away to a zoo or something.
Or if they just flew away. I'm lucky, though. I mean I could shoot the old bull to old Spencer and think about those ducks at the same time. It's funny.
You don't have to think too hard when you talk to a teacher. All of a sudden, though, he interrupted me while I was shooting the bull. He was always interrupting you. I'd be very interested to know. Very interested. I sort of wished he'd cover up his bumpy chest. It wasn't such a beautiful view. I just quit, sort of. Oh, well it's a long story, sir. I mean it's pretty complicated. He wouldn't have understood it anyway.
It wasn't up his alley at all. One of the biggest reasons I left Elkton Hills was because I was surrounded by phonies. That's all. They were coming in the goddam window.
For instance, they had this headmaster, Mr. Haas, that was the phoniest bastard I ever met in my life. Ten times worse than old Thurmer. On Sundays, for instance, old Haas went around shaking hands with everybody's parents when they drove up to school. He'd be charming as hell and all. Except if some boy had little old funny-looking parents. You should've seen the way he did with my roommate's parents. I mean if a boy's mother was sort of fat or corny-looking or something, and if somebody's father was one of those guys that wear those suits with very big shoulders and corny black-and-white shoes, then old Hans would just shake hands with them and give them a phony baloney smile and then he'd go talk, for maybe a half an hour, with somebody else's parents.
I can't stand that stuff. It drives me crazy. It makes me so depressed I go crazy. I hated that goddam Elkton Hills. Old Spencer asked me something then, but I didn't hear him.
I was thinking about old Haas. Not yet, anyway. I guess it hasn't really hit me yet. It takes things a while to hit me. All I'm doing right now is thinking about going home Wednesday. I'm a moron. Sure, I do. Not too much, I guess. You will when it's too late. It made me sound dead or something. It was very depressing. I'm trying to help you. I'm trying to help you, if I can. You could see that. But it was just that we were too much on opposite sides ot the pole, that's all.
No kidding. I appreciate it. Boy, I couldn't' ve sat there another ten minutes to save my life. I have quite a bit of equipment at the gym I have to get to take home with me. I felt sorry as hell for him, all of a sudden.
But I just couldn't hang around there any longer, the way we were on opposite sides of the pole, and the way he kept missing the bed whenever he chucked something at it, and his sad old bathrobe with his chest showing, and that grippy smell of Vicks Nose Drops all over the place.
Don't worry about me," I said. I'll be all right. I'm just going through a phase right now. Everybody goes through phases and all, don't they? I don't know. Sure, they do," I said. Please don't worry about me. Spencer would be- -" "I would, I really would, but the thing is, I have to get going.
I have to go right to the gym. Thanks, though.
Thanks a lot, sir. And all that crap.
The Catcher in the Rye full text pdf - THE CATCHER IN THE...
It made me feel sad as hell, though. Take care of your grippe, now. I'm pretty sure he yelled "Good luck! I'd never yell "Good luck! It sounds terrible, when you think about it. It's awful. If I'm on my way to the store to download a magazine, even, and somebody asks me where I'm going, I'm liable to say I'm going to the opera. It's terrible.
So when I told old Spencer I had to go to the gym and get my equipment and stuff, that was a sheer lie. I don't even keep my goddam equipment in the gym. It was only for juniors and seniors. I was a junior. My roommate was a senior. It was named after this guy Ossenburger that went to Pencey.
He made a pot of dough in the undertaking business after he got out of Pencey. What he did, he started these undertaking parlors all over the country that you could get members of your family buried for about five bucks apiece.
You should see old Ossenburger. He probably just shoves them in a sack and dumps them in the river. Anyway, he gave Pencey a pile of dough, and they named our wing alter him. The first football game of the year, he came up to school in this big goddam Cadillac, and we all had to stand up in the grandstand and give him a locomotive— that's a cheer. Then, the next morning, in chapel, be made a speech that lasted about ten hours.
He started off with about fifty corny jokes, just to show us what a regular guy he was. Then he started telling us how he was never ashamed, when he was in some kind of trouble or something, to get right down his knees and pray to God. He told us we should always pray to God-talk to Him and all— wherever we were.
He told us we ought to think of Jesus as our buddy and all. He said he talked to Jesus all the time. Even when he was driving his car. That killed me. I just see the big phony baloney bastard shifting into first gear and asking Jesus to send him a few more stiffs. The only good part of his speech was right in the middle of it. He was telling us all about what a swell guy he was, what a hot-shot and all, then all of a sudden this guy sitting in the row in front of me, Edgar Marsalla, laid this terrific fart.
It was a very crude thing to do, in chapel and all, but it was also quite amusing. Old Marsalla. He damn near blew the roof off.
Hardly anybody laughed out loud, and old Ossenburger made out like he didn't even hear it, but old Thurmer, the headmaster, was sitting right next to him on the rostrum and all, and you could tell he heard it. Boy, was he sore. He didn't say anything then, but the next night he made us have compulsory study hall in the academic building and he came up and made a speech. He said that the boy that had created the disturbance in chapel wasn't fit to go to Pencey.
We tried to get old Marsalla to rip off another one, right while old Thurmer was making his speech, but be wasn't in the right mood. Anyway, that's where I lived at Pencey. Old Ossenburger Memorial Wing, in the new dorms.
It was pretty nice to get back to my room, after I left old Spencer, because everybody was down at the game, and the heat was on in our room, for a change. It felt sort of cosy. I took off my coat and my tie and unbuttoned my shirt collar; and then I put on this hat that I'd bought in New York that morning.
It was this red hunting hat, with one of those very, very long peaks. I saw it in the window of this sports store when we got out of the subway, just after I noticed I'd lost all the goddam foils.
It only cost me a buck. The way I wore it, I swung the old peak way around to the back— very corny, I'll admit, but I liked it that way. I looked good in it that way. Then I got this book I was reading and sat down in my chair. There were two chairs in every room. I had one and my roommate, Ward Stradlater, had one.
The arms were in sad shape, because everybody was always sitting on them, but they were pretty comfortable chairs. The book I was reading was this book I took out of the library by mistake. They gave me the wrong book, and I didn't notice it till I got back to my room.
They gave me Out of Africa, by Isak Dinesen. I thought it was going to stink, but it didn't. It was a very good book. I'm quite illiterate, but I read a lot. My favorite author is my brother D. My brother gave me a book by Ring Lardner for my birthday, just before I went to Pencey. It had these very funny, crazy plays in it, and then it had this one story about a traffic cop that falls in love with this very cute girl that's always speeding.
Only, he's married, the cop, so be can't marry her or anything. Then this girl gets killed, because she's always speeding. That story just about killed me. What I like best is a book that's at least funny once in a while. I read a lot of classical books, like The Return of the Native and all, and I like them, and I read a lot of war books and mysteries and all, but they don't knock me out too much. What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.
That doesn't happen much, though. I wouldn't mind calling this Isak Dinesen up. And Ring Lardner, except that D. I read it last summer. It's a pretty good book and all, but I wouldn't want to call Somerset Maugham up. I don't know, He just isn't the kind of guy I'd want to call up, that's all. I'd rather call old Thomas Hardy up. I like that Eustacia Vye. Anyway, I put on my new hat and sat down and started reading that book Out of Africa.
I'd read it already, but I wanted to read certain parts over again. I'd only read about three pages, though, when I heard somebody coming through the shower curtains. Even without looking up, I knew right away who it was. It was Robert Ackley, this guy that roomed right next to me.
There was a shower right between every two rooms in our wing, and about eighty-five times a day old Ackley barged in on me. He was probably the only guy in the whole dorm, besides me, that wasn't down at the game.
He hardly ever went anywhere. He was a very peculiar guy. He was a senior, and he'd been at Pencey the whole four years and all, but nobody ever called him anything except "Ackley. The whole time he roomed next to me, I never even once saw him brush his teeth. They always looked mossy and awful, and he damn near made you sick if you saw him in the dining room with his mouth full of mashed potatoes and peas or something.
Besides that, he had a lot of pimples. Not just on his forehead or his chin, like most guys, but all over his whole face. And not only that, he had a terrible personality. He was also sort of a nasty guy. I wasn't too crazy about him, to tell you the truth. I could feel him standing on the shower ledge, right behind my chair, taking a look to see if Stradlater was around. He hated Stradlater's guts and he never came in the room if Stradlater was around. He hated everybody's guts, damn near.
He came down off the shower ledge and came in the room. He always said it like he was terrifically bored or terrifically tired. He didn't want you to think he was visiting you or anything. He wanted you to think he'd come in by mistake, for God's sake. With a guy like Ackley, if you looked up from your book you were a goner. You were a goner anyway, but not as quick if you didn't look up right away. He started walking around the room, very slow and all, the way he always did, picking up your personal stuff off your desk and chiffonier.
He always picked up your personal stuff and looked at it. Boy, could he get on your nerves sometimes. He just wanted me to quit reading and enjoying myself. He didn't give a damn about the fencing. Without looking up, though. He always made you say everything twice. I sneaked a look to see what he was fiddling around with on my chiffonier. He must've picked up that goddam picture and looked at it at least five thousand times since I got it. He always put it back in the wrong place, too, when he was finished.
He did it on purpose. You could tell. Ya lost them, ya mean? I had to keep getting up to look at a goddam map on the wall. Not him, though. How 'bout sitting down or something, Ackley kid? You're right in my goddam light. It drove him mad when I called him "Ackley kid. He was exactly the kind of a guy that wouldn't get out of your light when you asked him to. He'd do it, finally, but it took him a lot longer if you asked him to.
He didn't get It, though. He started walking around the room again, picking up all my personal stuff, and Stradlater's. Finally, I put my book down on the floor. You couldn't read anything with a guy like Ackley around. It was impossible.
I slid way the hell down in my chair and watched old Ackley making himself at home. I was feeling sort of tired from the trip to New York and all, and I started yawning.
Then I started horsing around a little bit. Sometimes I horse around quite a lot, just to keep from getting bored. What I did was, I pulled the old peak of my hunting hat around to the front, then pulled it way down over my eyes. That way, I couldn't see a goddam thing. I swear to God," Ackley said. I kept saying, "Mother darling, why won't you give me your hand? That stuff gives me a bang sometimes.
Besides, I know it annoyed hell out of old Ackley. He always brought out the old sadist in me. I was pretty sadistic with him quite often. Finally, I quit, though. I pulled the peak around to the back again, and relaxed. He was holding my roommate's knee supporter up to show me. That guy Ackley'd pick up anything. He'd even pick up your jock strap or something. I told him it was Stradlater's.
So he chucked it on Stradlater's bed. He got it off Stradlater's chiffonier, so he chucked it on the bed. He came over and sat down on the arm of Stradlater's chair. He never sat down in a chair. Just always on the arm.
He was always cleaning his fingernails. It was funny, in a way. His teeth were always mossy-looking, and his ears were always dirty as hell, but he was always cleaning his fingernails. I guess he thought that made him a very neat guy.
He took another look at my hat while he was cleaning them. I sort of closed one eye, like I was taking aim at it. He's got a date. I was yawning all over the place. For one thing, the room was too damn hot. It made you sleepy. At Pencey, you either froze to death or died of the heat. Lend me your scissors a second, willya? Ya got 'em handy? I packed them already. They're way in the top of the closet.
I got them for him though. I nearly got killed doing it, too. The second I opened the closet door, Stradlater's tennis racket— in its wooden press and all-fell right on my head.
It made a big clunk, and it hurt like hell. It damn near killed old Ackley, though. He started laughing in this very high falsetto voice.
He kept laughing the whole time I was taking down my suitcase and getting the scissors out for him. Something like that— a guy getting hit on the head with a rock or something-tickled the pants off Ackley.
I'll get you on the goddam radio. I don't feel like walking on your crumby nails in my bare feet tonight. What lousy manners. I mean it. He was always keeping tabs on who Stradlater was dating, even though he hated Stradlater's guts. Boy, I can't stand that sonuvabitch. He's one sonuvabitch I really can't stand. He told me he thinks you're a goddam prince," I said. I call people a "prince" quite often when I'm horsing around. It keeps me from getting bored or something. You'd think he-" "Do you mind cutting your nails over the table, hey?
He thinks he is.George something is a friend of Sally Hayes from Andover. The pervasive capitalization of proper nouns mark his speech; he compulsively names names. I could see where he was sitting. Then I said, "The reason you're sore at Stradlater is because he said that stuff about brushing your teeth once in a while. I think I even miss goddam Maurice. He finally did, but he took his time about it, as usual.