The novel The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger begins with the main character, Holden Caulfield, living in an institution in California. Holden is seventeen-years-old and recalls the events that happened a year prior when he was a student at Pencey. 

The events he recalls take place before the Christmas break when Holden finds out that he has been expelled for failing most of his classes. Holden, who is the manager of Pencey’s fencing team, accidentally forfeits a match in New York by forgetting the team’s equipment on the subway. After this, he decides to say goodbye to Mr. Spencer, his history teacher, who expresses his disappointment about Holden’s poor academic results. 

When he returns to his dorm, Holden interacts with Robert Ackley, a nosy colleague, and with Ward Stradlater, his roommate. Stradlater asks Holden to write a descriptive English composition for him, while he is out on a date. Holden finds out that Stradlater’s date is Jane Gallagher, a girl whom Holden respects and has feelings for. Holden writes Stradlater’s composition about hi...

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