Holden’s Depression in the Catcher in the Rye (2023)

Paper Type: Free EssaySubject: Literature
Wordcount: 1238 wordsPublished: 8th Feb 2020

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Lens of Depression

The Catcher in the Rye written by J.D Salinger is about Holden Caulfield. A young curious, lost kid who does not seem to understand the true meaning of life. His transition with adolescents and his curiosity don’t manage well together. Holden is immature he makes many mistakes, and acts as though he has not made any. Holden does not seem like a normal seventeen year old. Holden is classified as an adult, but I do believe that because he is suffering from depression he does not act his age although he may think he is. Holden dislikes the society he lives in and goes on a long pilgrimage to discover himself. Holden is a critical person, judgemental, seems very anxious, has sarcasm, this leads him on a path of self destruction. The way that Holden acts in the novel makes me think he is unstable, and judgemental about everything. I am viewing this novel from a psychological lense but more specifically through depression. Holden’s childhood seemed to have affected him and caused depression. His childhood is what made Holden and due to his childhood he is suffering from depression in his older age,

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Holden’s childhood has shaped who is today. His personality and his attitude in his life are the results of his childhood experiences. At a young age he lost many connections with his family members especially his parents. Due to bad relations with his parents we can understand where his loneliness comes in. In the novel Holden always seems to be alone. I felt that he wants someone to be around him to comfort him, to fill that empty feeling he was suffering from. Holden Caulfield needs physiological needs, he needs comfort and love because at a very young age his brother has passed away (“it wasn’t just that he was the most intelligent member in the family. He was also the nicest …. God, he was a nice kid, though” (57)..” Allies death triggered a deep loss in Holden because Holden could actually talk to him and was deeply connected to him. It was the only person in Holden’s life that Holden felt was a good person. As Holden was healing from his brothers loss he started looking up to his brother D.B again ( I mean, that’s all I told D.B. about, and he’s my brother and all. He’s in Hollywood. That isn’t too far from this crumby place. (11)”. Holden dealing with tons of emotion began to see his older brothers fakeness which was bothering Holden to the extent that he started labeling his brother as a “phony”. D.B was a very good writer but gave it all up because of his selfishness. He lost his writing talent to become famous in Hollywood for money. Holden went back into his shell and became even more upset (What I was really hanging around for, I was trying to feel some kind of good-by. I mean I’ve left schools and places I didn’t even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don’t care if it’s a sad good-by or a bad good-by, but when I leave a place I like to knowI’m leaving it. If you don’t, you feel even worse. (18)”. I believe that Holden became even more judgemental and criticized everyone after this blow from his brother. He began to lose respect for him. When a person is depressed even the smallest thing that makes them second guess a person’s actions will bother them. It will cause the person to become even more upset, lost, and confused on the path they should take. First Holden losing out on his parents relationship, then Holden losing two brothers made him even more secluded and upset then he ever was before in his life. For a depressed individual company is key for them to recover and see hope in their eyes. D.B made it even harder for Holden to see that because he gave up his real self for money. Due to D.B’s actions Holden also started questioning his ability to do anything and follow his true passions.

More than 18.1% (40 million) of the population in the United States is affected by depression every year. (ADAA) Depression is a mood disorder that affects the emotion of a everyday human being and puts their emotions into the the dirt. Being affected by depression can cause lack of activity, suicidal thoughts and bad habits like drinking and smoking as well as doing things they would not normally do.. Depression is so powerful when it hits some may think that it is permanent and effects the way people are towards the world going through it. The main character of “The Catcher in the Rye” Holden is going through a tough time in his life and everything that he is doing is making it worse for himself. Holden does things that make him even more depressed. He is living life not the way he wants too.

Another cause of Holden’s depression I believe was due to Holden being anxious. I felt that Holden was very anxious throughout the novel because he seems to be afraid of growing up. His attitude is that he tries to avoid anything that makes him feel as if he is getting older. Holden uses shields throughout the novel as his defense mechanisms. “If there’s one thing I hate, it’s the movies. Don’t even mention them to me”(2). He says the movies are phony and so are the people that go to them. Even though he says this he goes to the movies and he has very strong feelings about them. Holden does many things to contradict himself throughout his story. “Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.” (ADAA). Holden’s life events prove that his anxiety issues did not just come out from nowhere. They triggered more and more issues deepening his depression.” It’s not uncommon for someone with an anxiety disorder to also suffer from depression or vice versa. Nearly one-half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.” (ADAA) We can confirm from this that anxiety leads to depression, and or they come in hand in hand.

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The pressure to succeed and his confusion with the way the World works caused Holden to be very pessimistic. Due to this Holden led his life to a path of self destruction. Holden wants to live in a World of perfection, yet his depression and anxiety are keeping him from doing that. Holden’s kept all his feelings inside his heart, he faked his way due to being afraid of being rejected. His loneliness, depression is all based on what had happened throughout his life.relating to my claim Depression is so powerful when it hits some may think that it is permanent and effects the way people are towards the world going through it . I felt that the viewing this novel in a psychological lens (depression) could be greatly connected in reading The Catcher in The Rye.

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What does Holden do when he's depressed? ›

When Holden gets very depressed, he sometimes talks "sort of out loud" to his younger brother. He does so after Sunny leaves. His communication with Allie is almost religious, a confession of Holden's boyhood lack of consideration for the kid.

What does Holden find depressing? ›

J.D Salinger, in the novel The Catcher in the Rye demonstrates how Holden is affected by the tragic death of his brother Allie. Allie's death is the root of Holden's depression and negative choices.

What does the depression symbolize in Catcher in the Rye? ›

A prominent cause of Holden Caulfield's depression is his detachment from society. To begin with, Holden isolates himself from the people around him as he refrains from developing social bonds.

What mental disorder does Holden have? ›

Salinger's manuscript for The Catcher in the Rye. Today, readers might infer that Holden must be suffering from some combination of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and anxiety. Holden himself references mental illness, trauma, and psychoanalysis.

What is an example of Holden's depression? ›

After his brother Allie dies, Holden falls into a deep depression where nothing seems to matter anymore. He questions the meaning of things around him, has suicidal thoughts, and rids himself of materialism.

How does Holden struggle with depression? ›

He is overwhelmed with untreated grief and depression. His actions are impulsive and irrational, and his thoughts are very upsetting and erratic. The difficulty in social settings and trauma makes it hard for him to filter what he says to others, and he can't understand why they reject him.

What causes Holden's mental breakdown? ›

In The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, the character, Holden Caulfield, has an underlying mental condition. He failed out of four schools; he saw his friend commit suicide; and his younger brother died of cancer. These life-changing experiences paved the way for Holden's insecure and unstable life.

How many times does Holden say depressed? ›

Let's do some word counting: variations of “depressed” or “depressing” occur 41 times in Catcher in the Rye.

Why is Holden depressed quotes? ›

“It was against my principles and all, but I was feeling so depressed I didn't even think. That's the whole trouble. When you're feeling very depressed, you can't even think.” “New York is terrible when somebody laughs on the street very late at night.”

What is an example of Holden having suicidal thoughts? ›

Throughout the novel, Holden frequently states that he feels depressed, and often entertains morbid thoughts. For example, after Maurice punches him in the gut, Holden thinks, “What I really felt like, though, is committing suicide.

What chapter is Holden depressed? ›

The Catcher in the Rye. Chapter 17. The thought of growing up drives Holden into bouts of depression. Here Holden is trying to persuade Sally Hayes, an attractive girl he has known and dated in the past, into marrying him and going away with him.

What things about Sunny make Holden depressed? ›

He is interested in sex, but he doesn't quite understand how to get there. What he learns with Sunny is that he prefers not to get there with a prostitute. The whole scene is depressing rather than erotic for Holden. He has to get to know a girl, and like her a lot, before he is comfortable with intimacy.

What does Holden consider because he is so depressed in Chapter 14? ›

That Holden speaks to his dead brother when he's depressed confirms that he has yet to process his emotions about Allie's death.

What chapter does Holden say he is depressed? ›

Holden Caulfield in Chapter 7. Holden has been expelled from Pencey for failing classes. Here he describes his exit. He cries as his feelings of depression and lonliness crash down on him at once.

What are Holden Caulfield's emotional symptoms? ›

Caulfield indicates that he has anxiety disorder by showing physical and mental symptoms such as; sweating excessively, difficulty finding peace of mind, going to the restroom when having panic attack, and failing at school, Holden Caulfield has background story that affects his current anxiety which are: absence of ...

What chapter does Holden have a mental breakdown? ›

Holden's breakdown reaches its climax in Chapter 25. As the chapter begins, Holden feels surrounded on all sides by ugliness and phoniness—the profanity on the walls, the vulgar Christmas-tree delivery men, the empty pomp of Christmas—and his recent interactions with Phoebe and Mr.


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