I suspected that an antidote to a fascination about The Catcher in the
Rye may be
to consider other characters' points of view as carefully as Salinger
considered Holden's. That thought, Mr. Punt's Essay, and, of
course, the book itself, inspired this work.
This is a story exploring Stradlater's point of view. (My fascination with
CITR hasn't exactly abated, though.)|
"He was talking about becoming a monk, fer Chrissakes. He said he fought
you for my honor," Ackley distractedly said. But Ward didn't pay much
attention. Seeing the blood got him all nervous again. His hands were shaking.
He kept it under control, by acting cool and leaving for a washcloth,
and going to the can to wet it up at a sink, and then returning to Ackley's
and Ely's room with it. Ackley was following him all the
Ward found an empty table and Fred soon joined him, along with several
other guys, including Ackley. Ackley was wearily saying, "I'll go to the
ten thirty Mass.. Yeah, I know I can't receive."
In the lavatory, two guys were smoking by a urinal. Three other guys came in
just after Ward. They had a dead goldfish and were preparing to give a farewell
to it. You weren't supposed to have pets anyway, one guy was saying.
Ward was irritated that there were this many people in the can. He needed
some place to wash Ely's sheets. His shower would be too inconvenient, like a
little mouse in a human's sink trying to wash it's face.
And it's drain didn't even have a plug. It'd be ridiculous.
Then Ward thought of the janitor's room. It had a
big ol' tub and faucet in it. But then guys would hear the splashing going on
in the janitor's room until he was done. He didn't need an audience.
Soon Ward figured out that he could get a bucket from the janitor's
room. Do the washing in his shower with the bucket.
When he got Ward's letter, Holden was sick in bed after a rough few days.
He was even sort of missing the gang at the dorm. He didn't
feel much at all like writing back, but he did.
He wrote his in freehand, too:
"I got your letter. Thank you. But you shouldn't beat people up. You really shouldn't. If you didn't give her the time, why didn't you just say so? I'm not too sore about it anymore, I guess. It still hurts sometimes. I mean my nose and my lip.
"I hope someone returned my library book, Out of Africa, but it's too late anyway if they didn't. If you did, thanks. "I should call old Jane, maybe. But Sally is a royal pain. I found that out. It has to wait anyway because I'm quite sick. In bed and all. With a fever, too. My family's doctor thinks I may have t.b. Anyway, I am going south for the warm climate. I'll be okay, though, assuming I get better. My brother, D.B., lives out there, in Hollywood. That's where I'm going, to my brother D.B.'s. "You have a good holiday, too. Have a good basketball season and graduation and classes and all. Thank you for the letter. Sorry that this is sloppy, I don't have much energy. I really don't.
Ward got the letter at home, after Christmas. When he opened it, he felt a
momentous, dangerous weight again.
After reading it the second time, the weight lifted and he even smiled a little. He thought
that he could go for that Sally. He was annoyed by Holden's expecting
the truth about a dud date. But he was also relieved to think that
Holden surely understood that
he had meant it: he did wish that he hadn't gone overboard like that.
That's the pure truth.