The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Summary of Chunk 2 (Chapters 3 - 4)

Chapter 3 opens with the ambiguous statement "I'm the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life," and then progresses into a description of Pencey, beginning with the phoniness of an alumni, Ossenburger.

The main action of the chunk begins when Robert Ackley, "a very peculiar guy" and suitemate, enters the room. Ackley is one of the few students not outside watching the football game, and hence is described more or less as a loser. Furthermore, he is incredibly messy and unkempt (with mossy teeth), and every action is interpreted as a pretense. For example, Ackley's lazy "hi" as he enters appears to Holden as if he is trying to make it seem as if the reason he is visiting is boredom rather than need for company. To annoy Ackley, Holden "horses around," first by pretending to be blind, then by spitting out nonsense compliments ("you're a goddam prince").

Ackley finally leaves upon the entry of Holden's roommate, Ward Stradlater, who rushes into the room from the football game, borrows Holden's jacket for a date, and rushes out to shave. Stradlater is described as very handsome, and comes off as incredibly friendly. However, Holden is quick to note that he is a "secret slob," shaving with a rusty blade, and that the friendliness is a "phony kind of friendliness."

Holden follows Stradlater to the bathroom and learns that Stradlater is leaving for a date with an old acquaintance of Holden's, Jane Gallagher.

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