“You felt like you were disappearing every time you crossed a road”; Diagnosing Holden with PTSD in Catcher in the Rye
He lived everyday not knowing when his little brother’s time was going to come. He knew it was soon, but just not that soon. Holden Caulfield, the protagonist in “The Catcher in the Rye”, by J.D. Salinger, seemed to have an ordinary life, until he watched his little brother, Allie, suffer from Leukemia. This traumatic event heavily affected Holden’s life. Most people that experienced such a traumatic event are usually diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD is a serious mental health condition with many intense symptoms. Some of the symptoms include flashbacks, feeling emotionally numb, hopelessness about the future, memory problems, trouble concentrating, anger, loneliness, and sleeplessness (Staff). Through out the novel, Holden displayed many of these symptoms. Therefore, it can be concluded that Holden Caulfield had PTSD. Holden exhibited one of the main symptoms, flashbacks, many times throughout the duration of the novel. An example is when Holden and his little sister, Pheobe, were talking and she asked him to name something he liked. One of the few things he mentioned was “this one boy at Elkton Hills, named James Castle”(Salinger, 220). Holden then went on to tell the story of how James Castle committed suicide just down the hallway from him. He explained it with great detail, remembering it vividly: “I ran downstairs too, and there was old James Castle laying right on the stone steps and all. He was dead, and his teeth, and blood, were all over the place”(Salinger, 221). Another flashback occurred when he was talking to his roommate, Stradlater, about a girl named Jane Gallagher. Jane was Holden’s neighbor a few summers ago. He went on to remember when they used to play checkers together and said, “She wouldn’t move any of her kings. What she’d do, when she’d get a king, she wouldn’t move it. She’d just leave it in...
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