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Books

Holden Caulfield’S Depression In The Catcher In The Rye By J.D Salinger

June 23, 2022 by Essay Writer

Depression is likely to strike many people to some degree in their lifetime. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 9. 1 percent of people reported current major or minor depression. Depression is a common mental disorder that leads often to loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, low energy, and poor concentration. This mental illness demonstrates to affect teens as much as it affects adults. Studies show that 20 percent of teens will experience teen depression before they reach adulthood.

When you deal with depression, you often find it difficult to live an everyday normal life. The “Catcher in the Rye” written by J. D Salinger, narrates on the main character Holden Caulfield, as someone who suffers from severe depression. Throughout the course of the book, we see holden various symptoms of depression. One telltale signs of depression are lack of social interactions, during the book, Holden desperately tries to make an intimate connection with another individual and has a difficult time doing so. Earlier in the book, we see Holden at the top of Thomsen Hill watching the game far away from all his classmates. “Anyway, it was the Saturday of the football game. . . . I remember around three o’clock that afternoon I was standing the way the hell up on top of Thomsen Hill. . . . You could see the whole field from there, and you could see the two teams bashing each other all over the place. “(page 2). Through the book when holden interacts with others, those interactions tend to be one-sided.

For instance when Stradlater asks him to write a composition, when Maurice takes his money, and when he is talking to the taxi cab driver. The first time we see him make a real interaction is when he is with Phoebe. This lack of two-sided interactions is a key factor in diagnosing Holden’s problem. Another side effect of depression is constant irritability, throughout the book, Holden voiced countless time how he couldn’t stand phonies. “One of the biggest reasons I left Elkton Hills was because I was surrounded by phonies. That’s all. They were coming in the goddam window” (page 13) In his mind holden created an illusion that phonies are everything that is wrong with the world. That adult is phonies and the worst part is, they can’t see that they’re phonies. When Phoebe asks Holden what he wants to do with his life he tells her he wants to be the catcher in the rye. This is a metaphor meaning he wants to be the one protects the innocence of childhood from the phoniness of adulthood. Holden is constantly irritated by the phonies all around him. When holden rants about phoniness he is experiencing mood swings and psychosis. Psychosis is a severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality. Depression frequently co-occurs with substance use and abuse.

People who are depressed drink and use drugs to lift their mood or escape from feelings of guilt or despair. But substances like alcohol, are depressants. Many times throughout the book holden asked other characters out for cocktails and etc. It seemed as if the little social life he had was based on drinking. “I ordered a Scotch and soda, and told him not to mix it—I said it fast as hell because if you hem and haw, they think you’re under twenty-one and won’t sell you any intoxicating liquor. ”(page 69). “I ran all the way to the main gate, and then I waited a second until I got my breath. I have no wind if you want to know the truth. I am quite a heavy smoker…”(page 5) Holden Caulfield uses smoking and drinking as an escape from his stressful life. Many people try to escape reality by drinking and smoking. Holden is trying to mask his problems and the reality of the situation that he finds himself in.

For holden smoking and drinking help temporarily numb the deep seeded pain. The death of a close family member can be devastating and feelings of depression are among the most common reactions. Early on in the book, we can see that Holden has various thoughts on death and dying he tells us about his deceased brother Allie. “ I was only thirteen, and they were going to have me psychoanalyzed and all because I broke all the windows in the garage. . . I slept in the garage the night he died, and I broke all the goddam windows with my fist, just for the hell of it. ”(page 38-29) From the evidence provided from the book the conclusion can be drawn, Holden’s depression stems from the death of his younger brother.

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