Catcher In The Rye Holden’s Breakdown Essay, Research Paper
?It?s not the last straw which broke the camel?s back.? In J.D. Salanger?s, Catcher in the Rye, the protagonist, Holden Caulfield, has many mental breakdowns. Though it may not have been one solitary event that pushed him off the edge, the one thing that started the whole ordeal was his brother Allie?s death. ?He?s dead now. He got leukemia and died when we were up in Maine, on July 18, 1946? (p. 38) Holden refers to his brother multiple times in the novel, showing how much impact Allie had on his life. Holden still will not believe that his brother is truly gone, an unhealthy feeling for such an adolescent. He still continues to talk to his brother, especially when he is depressed and longs for the ?good old days? when his brother was still alive and his problems were not so severe. Holden does not believe that it is he who is going insane, but it is the rest of the world who has lost their mind for failing to see the hopelessness of their own lives.
Leukemia did not only kill Allie in a way it also killed Holden. Leukemia is a disease that does not kill you directly; it shuts down your immune system causing smaller things, which do not harm most people, to eventually kill you because your body can not fend for itself. This is a metaphor of Holden?s breakdown. Because Holden was so close to Allie when he died, he does not know what to feel about people anymore. He begins to grow a fear of commitment, and has trouble relating to his peers and working hard to attain goals. He worked hard to form such a close relationship with his brother, and what does he get from that? Pain when it does not work out the way he had hoped.
Holden not only has a ?fear? of what he is experiencing right now, but also is confused and scared about what is to come. Holden is afraid of what is to happen to him, not only death, but of his importance and impact he has on others. ?Every time I?d get to the end of a block I?d make believe I was talking to my brother Allie. I?d say to him, ?Allie, don?t let me disappear. Allie, don?t let me disappear … And then when I reached the other side without disappearing, I?d thank him ? but I kept going and all. I was sort of afraid to stop.?(p. 198) One of the reasons he cannot stay at one school for more than a little while without getting expelled is because, by working hard and doing his best, he is preparing himself for the ?real world?. The adult world scares him, and by working hard and accepting his responsibilities, he is somehow agreeing that he will soon have to face it on his own. Holden does not want to ?get an office job and make a lot of money like the rest of the phonies?. The one thing that Holden tries hard more than anything to do is to prevent himself from being another one of the phonies.
A major fault of Holden?s, is that he tends to twist the world around to fit the image that he has always seen from it. When he hears a little boy singing a lighthearted love song about coming through the rye, he sees it as his queue to save the people, wanting to be their ?catcher?. The reason Holden wants to be the ?catcher? of the children, and save them, is because that is the one thing that he couldn?t do for his brother. Holden still feels horrible about the things that he knows he could have done but didn?t, for Allie. He continuously talks to the imaginary Allie, hoping to gain his forgiveness.
What I did, I started talking, sort of out loud, to Allie. I do that sometimes when I get very depressed. I keep telling him to go home and get his bike and meet me in front of Bobby Fallon?s house? Anyway, Allie heard us talking about it, and he wanted to go, and I wouldn?t let him. I told him he was a child. So once in a while, now when I get very depressed, I keep saying to him ?Okay. Go home and get your bike and meet me in front of Bobby?s house.? (p. 98-99)
Even though Holden knows that talking to his dead brother will not help him face his fears and solve his problems, he still tries it, and sometimes finds some mild comfort in looking back at his times with his brother. He couldn?t save his brother from ?falling off the cliff?, so he has a desire to help others, and do what he wished he could have done for his brother, Allie.
The original cause of Holden?s breakdown was his brother?s death. Like most mental breakdowns though, it did not come about suddenly. Like a cancer or aids, the original problem or ?disease? takes over your immune system. It causes normal infections or viruses, in Holden?s case, adolescence, to break you down, even though it is something that most people can mildly overcome and move on from. This did not work in Holden?s case. He was stuck in the past and could not move on and work hard and make true friends because he was still stuck back with his brother Allie. Holden remembers the baseball glove that Allie had and wrote about it even when he knew the assignment was to write about a room or place. His desire is not to work hard to get a job and a girlfriend like so many boys his age is, but to become the ?catcher in the rye?, and abandon all responsibilities that goes along with living in the real world. Because of Allie?s death, Holden?s mental breakdown occurs, and he is not able to live a normal teenage life.