The Catcher in the Rye is narrated by Holden Caulfield, a sixteen year-old boy recuperating in a rest home from a nervous breakdown, some time in 1950. Holden tells the story of his last day at a school called Pencey Prep, and of his subsequent psychological meltdown in New York City. Holden has been expelled from Pencey for academic failure, and after an unpleasant evening with his self-satisfied roommate Stradlater and their pimply next-door neighbor Ackley, he decides to leave Pencey for good and spend a few days alone in New York City before returning to his parents' Manhattan apartment. In New York, he succumbs to increasing feelings of loneliness and desperation brought on by the hypocrisy and ugliness of the adult world; he feels increasingly tormented by the memory of his younger brother Allie's death, and his life is complicated by his burgeoning sexuality. He wants to see his sister Phoebe and his old girlfriend Jane Gallagher, but instead he spends his time with Sally Hayes, a shallow socialite Holden's age, and Carl Luce, a pretentious Columbia student Holden treats as a source of sexual knowledge Increasingly lonely, Holden finally decides to sneak back to his parents' apartment to talk to Phoebe. He borrows some money from her, then goes to stay with his former English teacher, Mr. Antolini. When he believes Mr. Antolini to be making a homosexual advance toward him, Holden leaves his apartment, and spends the rest of the night on a bench in Grand Central Station. The next day Holden experiences the worst phase of his nervous breakdown. He wanders the streets, looking at children and talking to Allie. He tries to leave New York forever and hitchhike west, but when Phoebe insists on going with him he relents, agreeing to go back home to protect his sister from the ugliness of the world. He takes her to the park, and watches her ride on the merry-go-round; he suddenly feels overwhelmed by an inexplicable, intense happiness. Holden concludes his story by refusing to talk about what happened after that, but he fills in the most important details: he went home, was sent to the rest home, and will attend a new school next year. He regrets telling his story to so many people; talking about it, he says, makes him miss everyone
The Impossible Job: Catcher in the Rye Recent studies show that depression is common among teenagers. Although the research may be new, it is not a new disease that has occupied teenagers. In the novel Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, the main character Holden Caufield is a depressed young man searching for good in the world; scenes in this story push Holden over the edge until he has an epiphany that eventually causes him to have a breakdown. Holden's constant inquiry about the location of the ducks in Central Park and his conversation with Sunny, instead of sexual intercourse, signify a lost boy in desperate need of help. Holden interrogates two taxi cab drivers about the location of the ducks during winter in Central Park. As Holden questions the second driver, Horwitz, the taxi cab driver responds by relating the ducks to the fish in the lake. The taxi cab driver irritably responds to Holden's barrage of questions by replying, "If you was a fish, Mother Nature'd take care of you, wouldn't she?" (109) The answer is satisfactory to Holden because he knows that wherever the ducks may be, they are taken care of. Holden's motive for wanting to know where the ducks fly in winter is that he cares for them because they relate to him. Similarly, Holden is subconsciously searching for help; he believes that by helping others, such as the ducks, he will find good in the world that will warm his heart and cure him of his depression. However, he finds the ducks do not cure his depression and again he discovers himself feeling lonely. Soon after the duck incident, Holden has his first encounter with Sunny. He starts talking to her...