The following passage is an exchange between Robert Ackley and Holden, transposed to Ackley’s point of view. These are pages 19-23.
Nearly all of Pency was already at the game, which left our dorms boring as hell. I just never saw the point of going to the thing, the score is all that matters in the end. Very few shared my opinion, one of whom was good ol’ Holden. That kid didn’t do anything, or go anywhere. Can’t see anyone having a satisfying life like that, I decided he could use some cheering up. I’m a good guy like that, whenever someone is feeling down, or doing nothing, I’ll drop by. It’s always a good feeling. His roommate, Stradlater, I’m not too crazy about though. He’s one stuck up sonuva bitch. You’d find him repulsive if you met em.
I walked nonchalantly through the bathroom, so he didn’t think I was doing him a favor by stopping by. I always checked to make sure Stradlater wasn’t around. “Hi,” I said. He didn’t even look up, poor bastard must have been depressed.
“Hi,” he finally responded. He was wearing this ridiculous cap, something we would hunt in back in Tennessee. Poor guy was reading some dumb ass book. I walked around, trying not to be affected by his boredom. Asked him some stuff, bout his life, what he did, it was probably the only thing keeping him from killing himself. I walked over to his desk to see his stuff. Must have made him feel good as hell, knowing that someone actually gave a crap about his belongings and all. He had this picture with a girl in it. She wasn’t too bad for Holden. She was standing on this bridge over a pond in a park with some ducks in the water behind her. To tell you the truth it was pretty, both the girl and the scenery. I’ve always been the kind a guy who looks tough but can appreciate beauty too.
I put it back gently and stood over the kid, he was still reading and all. I don’t remember what he said but he wasn’t being too friendly considering I was doing him a favor by being there. People never give a shit when you try to do nice things. “How ‘bout sitting down or something, Ackley kid? You’re right in my goddam light.”
He was trying to piss me off by calling me “Ackley kid,” bastards 2 years younger me, where does he get off calling me “kid”? Anyway, I didn’t really care, I just pretended I did sometimes because I find the whole thing really stupid and all, considering most of those who call me it are immature as hell. I didn’t care.
My niceness persisted. I asked him what he was reading. “Goddam book,” he answered.
Sometimes he could be rude as hell, especially when I’m trying to be friendly. Once again, I responded nicely.
“Any good?” I asked, lifting it towards him so I could see the cover. The book was Out of Africa, probably some stuff about the slave trade. No kidding you’re gonna be sad as hell if you read stuff like that.
“This sentence I’m reading is terrific,” he said. Didn’t really understand that, so I decided to go around the room again and look at his stuff to cheer him up. That sunuvabitch Stradlater’s junk was there too, it was always pretty easy to tell who’s it was, Stradlater always had nicer stuff than Holden. Clothes, combs, suitcases, but Stradlater ruined the hell outta his stuff just because it was his stuff. Hate that bastard, all he cares about is himself and his goddam appearance. Every time I see him downstairs in the bathrooms, he’s either shaving or fixing his goddam hair. He takes forever too. He’s always messing with his hair, or stroking his face, even when he’s not in the bathroom, he’s such a goddam narcissist. That guy wouldn’t help out a poor fella like Holden like I do. Anyway, Holden started screwing around acting immature as hell. He pulled that hat down over his eyes and said;
“I think I’m going blind, mother darling, everything’s getting so dark in here.” It was really stupid to watch, but considering my entire visit was a courtesy, I gave him a half decent response.
“You’re nuts. I swear to God,” I commented. He persisted in his immaturity, I personally liked the kid when he was reading and boring as hell.
“Mother darling, give me your hand. Why won’t you give me your hand?” I just ignored him, he started walking around the room like a madman, with his arms out and all, squeezing the empty space with his hands. He finally quit, and swung his hat around so he could see. I found this arm patch thing, and asked him who’s it was. Much to my dismay it was Stradlater’s, what the hell did he need an armband for? I went over to the chair and sat on the arm to get the hell away from Stradlater’s stuff. Holden looked at me funny, like I had just confused him. There was a bit of a silence do I decided to break it so we wouldn’t get all depressed again.
“Where the hellja get that hat?” I asked him, I didn’t really give a damn, it was the ugliest freakin hat I’ve ever seen. He probably liked it because it covered so much of his face.
“New york,” he said.
“How much?” I asked.
“One dollar.” He replied.
You get what you payed for, I thought. I didn’t want to be rude, so I didn’t say it. My goddam nails were killing me, they are always dirty. Same with me teeth, it’s not like I don’t clean them or anything, it’s just nobody can be as hygienic as Stradlater. I picked up a match and got some of the dirt out from under them. I realized his hat again, finally pointing out what I thought of it.
“Back home we wear a hat like that too shoot deer in, for Chrissake,” I told em. “It’s a deer shooting hat.”
“Like hell it is.” He answered.
I was somewhat surprised he knew about his hat’s absurdity and still neglected to stop wearing it. He took it off and pretended to be hunting, poor bastard didn’t know the first thing about it.
“This is a people shooting hat,” he said. “I shoot people in this hat.”
I didn’t even know how I felt about that comment, I just ignored it.
“Your folks know you got kicked out yet?” I asked him, trying to change the subject.
“Nope.” He replied. Poor bastard, he didn’t even know what he wanted to do with his life. This wasn’t the first school he’d been kicked out of either, he was one aimless sunuvabitch. He was a bright kid, you could tell by him reading and all. But he wasn’t bright enough to realize that he needed to do is work to make it. That’s where he wasn’t so bright.
“Where the hell’s Stradlater at, anyway?” I asked
“Down at the game. He’s got a date.” He yawned, wasn’t the first damn time either. He’d yawned 6 times since I had came in. I still think I helped him in my visit though, he probably woulda been dead on the floor otherwise.