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Catcher In The Rye (Depression In Holden)

Essay, Research Paper

The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, portrays Holden Cawfield a New York City teenager in the 1950’s as a manic-depressive. Holden’s depression starts with the death of his brother, Allie . Holden is expelled from numerous schools due to his poor academics which are brought on by his depression. Manic depression, compulsive lying, and immaturity throughout the novel characterize Holden.

Events in Holden’s life lead him to become depressed. Holden’s depression centers on Allie. The manner that Holden sees himself and how he sees others leads him to be expelled from school. The speaker expresses, “One thing about packing depressed me a little,” (51). Holden expresses these feelings when he packs his bags after being notified that he is expelled. Holden leaves school and heads for New York City, where he finds himself to be more lonely and depressed than ever. He is all alone and he laments, ” What I really felt like doing was committing suicide. I felt like jumping out of the window,” (104). Holden says this while he is all alone in his motel room. He is too ashamed of himself to return home, he knows that his mother will be upset and his father will be angry with him. He also adds that ” I wasn t feeling sleepy or anything, but I was feeling sort of lousy. Depressed and all, I almost wished I was dead,” (90). Holden states this during one of the first nights that he is staying in New York. Holden expresses many thoughts of depression.

Compulsive lying is another characteristic that Holden exhibits. Holden would tell people lies just so they could not become closer to the real Holden. Holden tells lies on numerous occasions to gain. Holden pathetically tells Mrs. Morrow, ” I have to have a tiny operation it isn’t very serious. I have this tiny little tumor on my brain” (58). She tells Holden that she is very sorry and she is hopeful that he shall be well soon. Holden then catches him self in a lie and he remarkes, “Once I get started, I can go on for hours if I feel like it,” (58). This compulsive lying shows that Holden is not satisfied with himself and that he feels that people will judge him critically.

Holden is also a very immature person. He becomes very jealous and he pretends that recess is everywhere. Holden shows his jealousy when he finds out that his roommate is dating Jane Gallagher. Jane is Holden’s next door neighboor. He confessed,” I could hardly keep my voice from shaking all over the place. Boy, was I getting nervous” (42). Holden expresses these feelings to the reader while he is talking to Stradlater about Jane. The jealousy and immaturity of Holden leads them into a fight. Holden is also immature in the relationships that he has with females. He explains the cab ride to the theater with Sally, ” We horsed around a little bit in the cab on the way over to the theater. At first she didn’t want to, because she had her lipstick on and all, but I was being seductive as hell and she didn t have any alternative”(125). He continues to tell her how much he loved her and then he regrets saying that because he really does not.

Holden’s depression, immaturity, and suicidal thoughts lead Holden to the rest home where he tells this story. The characteristics that Holden portrays lead him to being expelled from school, problems with his parents, and problems in his social life. Had Holden not been suicidal and immature he would.

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