CliffsNotes The Catcher in the Rye

By Stanley P. Baldwin | Go to book overview

Chapter 3

Summary

Holden returns to Pencey where he lives in the Ossenburger Memorial Wing of the new dorms, reserved for juniors and seniors. Ossenburger is an alumnus who has made a fortune in the undertaking business. Pencey named a wing of the new dormitories after him in thanks for a large donation. Ossenburger attended the first home football game earlier in the fall and bored the students, especially Holden, with a long-winded, corny, cliché-filled oration at chapel the next morning. A flatulent student named Edgar Marsalla finally countered with his own loud breaking of wind, much to Holden’s delight.

The dorm room is empty and cozy. Holden tries on a red hunting cap, with a long bill, which he bought for a dollar in New York that morning. He relaxes with a good book, Isak Denisen’s Out of Africa, until he is interrupted by Robert Ackley who rooms next door and enters through a shower that the two rooms share. Ackley is a nuisance and ruins the mood.

Ward Stradlater, Holden’s roommate, comes in from the football game and asks to borrow Holden’s hound’s-tooth jacket as he prepares to go out for the evening.


Commentary

Ossenburger’s character introduces the theme of death in a comic vein. The mortician is just the sort of establishment “phony” that Holden loves to mock. He has a chain of funeral parlors, profiting from high volume at low rates and, Holden is certain, shabby service. Ossenburger’s speech at chapel is filled with “corny jokes” and clichés. He says that he is never ashamed to get down on his knees and talk to his buddy, Jesus. This humors Holden, who imagines Ossenburger asking Jesus to “send him a few more stiffs.” Marsalla’s magnificent fart, which, Holden reports, nearly “blew the roof off” the chapel, is the perfect response.

-28-

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CliffsNotes The Catcher in the Rye
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • CliffsNotes™ The Catcher in the Rye i
  • Table of Contents iii
  • How to Use This Book vi
  • Life and Background of the Author 1
  • Introduction to the Novel 7
  • Criticalcommentaries 21
  • Chapter 1 22
  • Chapter 2 25
  • Chapter 3 28
  • Chapter 4 31
  • Chapter 5 33
  • Chapters 6 and 7 35
  • Chapters 8 and 9 37
  • Chapter 10 41
  • Chapter 11 43
  • Chapter 12 45
  • Chapter 13 47
  • Chapter 14 49
  • Chapter 15 51
  • Chapter 16 53
  • Chapter 17 56
  • Chapters 18 and 19 59
  • Chapter 20 61
  • Chapter 21 63
  • Chapter 22 65
  • Chapter 23 68
  • Chapter 24 70
  • Chapters 25 and 26 73
  • Character Analyses 77
  • Critical Essays 85
  • CliffsNotes Review 93
  • CliffsNotes Resource Center 96
  • Index 99
  • Notes 103
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