The Catcher in the Rye

by: J. D. Salinger

Stradlater

Stradlater is Holden’s roommate at Pencey. His presence in the novel serves to highlight some of Holden’s psychological issues, and particularly his unspoken issues with sexuality. First and foremost, Stradlater strikes Holden as a “hotshot,” which in his lexicon is another word for “phony.” Stradlater spends a lot of time at the gym and in front of the mirror, working on his appearance. He also tends to be emotionally distant and uncommunicative. These characteristics frustrate Holden, and they make Stradlater seem hollow, lacking personality. At the same time, however, there’s a tinge of jealousy in Holden’s regard for Stradlater, and especially regarding his date with Jane Gallagher. Holden worries that Stradlater will make a sexual advance on Jane, who is someone Holden knows, respects, and seems to have an earnest crush on. On the other hand, Holden may have a latent attraction to his roommate. Holden constantly comments on Stradlater’s “sexy” physique. He also follows him into the bathroom to watch him shave, and even tries to horse around with him, jumping on his back and wrestling with him. Holden clearly has complicated feelings about Stradlater, and these feelings are largely bound up with Holden’s sexuality.