The Catcher in The Rye

The novel The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger takes place in the 1950’s. The novel is written from the point of view of Holden Caulfield, a very depressed teenager. There are many underlying causes that lead to Holden’s depression. One of the major reasons for Holden’s depression is failing at many different things. Holden does not have any close friends to talk to and has a very hard time establishing long term relationships. Another cause for his depression is the death of his younger brother Allie, he has always thought that the world would have been better off if he had died instead of his brother. There are many reasons for Holden’s depression including multiple failures, having very few friends, and the death of his younger brother Allie.

            A large portion of Holden’s depression comes from failing multiple times. He has flunked almost every class he has taken except English. When he fails, his classes, he does not care about it and goes on with his life. Holden is kicked out of Pence Prep because of his low grades and his inability to take school seriously. This quote shows that he does not care about his future in education. “They gave me frequent warning to start applying myself- but I didn’t do it.” One of the major factors for Holden’s depression is his multiple failures throughout the novel.

            It is very difficult for Holden to establish long term relationships and he does not have any close friends except his sister Phoebe. Holden gets very confused in relationships with girls. He says crazy things and sometimes he will mean what he is saying. This quote shows it “The terrible part though is that I meant it.”(134, Chp17). Holden tends to jump from one school to another so he is never able to keep a long term relationship going. At the beginning of the book, Holden reveals that he is a great liar. This makes it very hard for him to keep a long term relationship going with someone if he constantly tells them lies about who he is.

Earlier in Holden’s life his younger brother Allie dies from cancer. This tragic incident has always troubled Holden and made his depression worse. He has always thought that the world would be a better place if he had died instead of his brother Allie. When Holden is depressed, he pretends that his younger brother is still alive and talks to him. “What I did, I started talking, sort of out loud, to Allie”. (98: ch.14). This is very unhealthy for Holden because it shows that he has a very hard time letting go of the past and moving on.        

There are many variables leading to Holden’s depression. They include having many failures, not having any close friends, and the loss of his younger brother Allie. Since his many failures at school, Holden has been in a downward spiral that will eventually lead to his mental break down. Not being able to talk to any close friends makes Holden’s depression much worse. Holden thinks that he should be dead instead of his brother Allie which does not help with his depression. If Holden’s parents had let him go to a school near his apartment he might have been able to establish a few long term relationships. With some new friends he might have gained some confidence and turned his life around.

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