Stradlater in The Catcher in the Rye

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In this lesson, we will learn more about Holden Caulfield's roommate at Pencey Prep, Stradlater, in the J.D. Salinger novel, 'The Catcher in the Rye.'

Pencey Prep Roommate

In The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, Stradlater is Holden Caulfield's roommate at Pencey Prep. To Holden, Stradlater represents a self-absorbed athlete that presents well to the outside world, but that has hidden flaws. In this lesson, we will learn more about Stradlater.


'He's got this superior attitude all the time,' Ackley said. 'I just can't stand the sonuvabitch…' Holden isn't the only one to complain of Stradlater's arrogance. At first, Holden tries to focus on Stradlater's finer points by praising Stradlater's generosity. 'Say he had a tie on that you liked a helluva lot--I'm just giving you an example, now. You know what he'd do? He'd probably take it off and give it to you. He really would,' says Holden. But even Holden has to agree that Stradlater is a little obsessed with himself. 'Stradlater ...spent around half his goddam life in front of the mirror.'

Stradlater loves his mirror.

Friendly But Phony

Holden hates people who act phony, but seems to excuse and even appreciate Stradlater's friendliness. 'He was at least a pretty friendly guy, Stradlater. It was partly a phony kind of friendly, but at least he always said hello to Ackley and all.' It strikes Holden, however, how people like Stradlater tend to present to others differently from how they really are. For example, Stradlater always looked really nice on the outside and seemed impressive to girls and parents, but Holden knows that his razor is nasty and unclean.

Always Asking Favors

Stradlater doesn't think twice about asking Holden to do his work for him so that Stradlater can go on a date with Jane. Holden finds it pretty entertaining that guys like Stradlater always think you want to do favors for them. 'Just because they're crazy about themself, they think you're crazy about them, too, and that you're just dying to do them a favor. It's sort of funny, in a way,' muses Holden. Even though Holden feels like Stradlater is dismissive of Holden's talents by implying that comma placement is what makes a good composition, Holden writes the paper for him. Instead of being grateful that it was done, Stradlater is unappreciative and complains about the topic Holden chose.

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