common psychiatric mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest is depression. Being highly debilitating, depression can affect how an individual emotionally thinks, feels, and handles daily activities. One of the most controversial and highly criticized books in literature is J.D Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, centering on the protagonist, Holden Caulfield. Throughout The Catcher in the Rye, Holden is alienated from society, facing mental trauma, and has reckless behavior all which makes him become depressed. Holden Caulfield has been emotionally affected when his brother, Allie, passed away due to leukemia. Mr. Antolini, Holden’s teacher, tries to guide Holden into a direction where it is evident that he has a purpose in life. Mr. Antolini also tries to prevent Holden from falling in a downward spiral by stating “The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one” (Salinger 101). However, Holden is already in a downward spiral with the choices he is creating, and this is evident when Mr. Antolini states “This fall I think you’re riding for–it’s a special kind of fall, a horrible kind. The whole arrangement designed for men who were looking for something their own environment couldn’t supply them with. So they gave up looking” (Salinger 101). Holden has fell into psychophysiological changes such as “disturbances in sleep, appetite, orloss of the ability to experience pleasure in work or with friends; crying; suicidal thoughts” (Belmaker and Agam). These psychophysiological changes have occurred throughout Holden’s alienation from society, reckless behaviors, and mental traumas that he has experienced. Holden has been victimized by the world around him throughout the novel. “When people arrive on the embankment of depression, the shores are dark, the sky is gray, and the setting sunset on the horizon brings nothing but seasickness” (Olsen). Being uninterested in his surroundings, Holden feels alone and trapped when trying to find his way in the world in which he feels like he does not belong to. Holden likes the world to be silent and frozen with no conflict. This is depicted when Holden visits the Museum of Natural History and he describes how the showcase exhibits a trapped life. “Eskimo would still be just finished catching those two fish, the birds would still be on their way south, the deers would still be drinking out of that water hole… Nobody’d be different. The only thing that would be different would be you ” (Salinger 65). However, the real world is continuously changing and unpredictable which is what Holden fears because it makes him question his self-esteem and future. Holden uses his alienation as a way to protect himself from society. For example, Holden runs away from his school, Pencey Prep, before being expelled to protect his individuality from phonies that he does not like and that made him upset. “I just didn’t want to hang around any more. It made me too sad and lonesome” (Salinger 28). Throughout The Catcher in the Rye, it is obvious that Holden always escapes from anything that makes him bored and depressed. Another example is when Holden wants to contact Jane Gallagher, however, he is afraid to speak to her which makes him isolate himself so he does not feel more emotional pain. “I thought of giving old Jane a buzz, to see if she was home yet and all, but I wasn’t in the mood” (Salinger 62). It is hard for Holden to form and maintain relationships which lowers his own self esteem leading to a state of depression. Throughout The Catcher in the Rye, there are various instances where Holden behaves recklessly because of his depression. First, it is evident that Holden faces depression when he has a lack in interest in school and decides to leave Pencey Prep before being expelled. He thinks the students attending Pencey Prep are phonies, making Holden dislike his school even more. This is evident when he tells his sister Phoebe ” It was one of the worst schools I ever went to. It was full of phonies. And mean guys. ” (Salinger 90). When Holden left Pencey Prep, shouting “Sleep tight, ya morons” (Salinger 29), he starts to cry which suggests that he is disappointed in himself because he also became a phony. His phoniness shows when he constantly lies “even during the most ordinary conversations the boy has, he lies about either his age, or something about his family or even when he is trying to please people around him” (Pinto 12) which is another example of a reckless behavior Holden demonstrates. Holden lies to Ernest Morrow’s mother by stating that he sick: “It isn’t very serious. I have this tiny little tumor on the brain” (Salinger 32). Not only does Holden leaves Pencey Prep and constantly deceives individuals, he has expressed frustration and anger when Allie passed away. “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. It was a very stupid thing to do” (Salinger 21). Punching windows is a sign of agitation, frustration, and severe unhappiness which are all indicators of depression. Another example where Holden recklessly behaved was when he went out with Sally Hayes. Wanting to be alienated from the world with Sally, they both dived into a heated argument where Holden insulted her stating “you give me a royal pain in the ass” (Salinger 72). Unable to make amends with her, he decides to intoxicate himself. Holden hides his issues by drinking. He does not like conflict occurring and because of this, he has no self control over his emotions which leads him to a depressive state. While Holden was intoxicated, he was pretending that he was shot. “I was the only guy at the bar with a bullet in their guts. I kept putting my hand under my jacket, on my stomach and all, to keep the blood from dripping all over the place” (Salinger 80). Holden pretending to be shot showed that he was emotionally in pain and that he was a complete mess. “I didn’t want anybody to know I was even wounded. I was concealing the fact that I was a wounded sonuvabitch” (Salinger 80). Leaving Pencey Prep, lying to individuals, punching windows, impoliteness, and experiencing intoxication are all reckless behaviors that Holden has demonstrated, suggesting his depressive state that is occurring throughout The Catcher in the Rye.
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