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Holden Caulfield's Experiences in J D Salinger's, The Catcher in the Rye

By Brookey1 Feb 25, 2013 541 Words
Brooklynn Broadwater

CITR: Essay

According to Psychiatric News the depression rate of a normal 16 year old is 11.5%. Holden Caulfield was apart of that 11.5% because he is disconnected with his family, is drinking heavily and is trying to experience sexual relations with older women. In Catcher in the Rye, J.D Salinger uses Holden’s interactions with his family, alcohol and sexuality to demonstrate his depression.

This story describes that with Holden’s brother, Allie passing away it makes his depression rate go higher but lowers as he ‘talks’ to him. “I felt so depressed, you can’t even imagine. What I did, I started talking, sort of out loud to Allie,”(98) said Holden. This shows that whenever Holden would feel down and depressed that the only person to go to was his brother, Allie. This was a way of comfort for Holden throughout the story. There are more incidents when Holden felt depressed and just talked to his dead brother, Allie, which is Salinger’s way to demonstrate his depression.

Alcohol demonstrates Holden’s depression also. “There isn’t any nightclub in the world you can sit in for a long time unless you can at least buy some liquor and get drunk of unless you’re with some girl that really knocks you out,” said Holden which describes that with the word usage of “at least buy some liquor and get drunk” meant that for him to have a good time he would need to be drunk to have fun. Also, the words “unless you’re with some girl that really knocks you out” explains that not just being drunk at a nightclub would make him enjoy himself but just having someone to talk to would also help to get rid of the loneliness. Being alone and needing someone to talk to, links back to Holden’s depression issues.

Lastly, Holden is mostly saddened by his sexual relationships with older women. Holden’s quote “don’t you feel like talking for a while”(124) , lets the reader know that he is scared and doesn’t really want to have sex with Sunny and just needed someone to talk to. Holden wanted to keep the conversation going but could not because Sunny was a prostitute and was only there for the money, not for conversation. The words “don’t you feel like…” shows that Holden is just asking questions, trying to prevent Sunny from doing her job or ignoring the real reason she was there. This shows that Holden only asked Maurice to send up a girl for him so he would have someone to talk to since he could not talk to his mom about his problems since she wasn’t around. As a result, he tries to connect with other older women instead. Salinger uses Holden’s attraction to older women to demonstrate the extent of his depression and need to have someone to give a listening ear.

Catcher in the Rye demonstrates Holden’s depression by J.D Salinger’s usage of his family, alcohol and sexuality. These quotes all show that his use of alcohol, sexual relationships and the lack of family all contributed to Holden’s depression. His is one of the many teenage depression cases that make up the 11.5% of the nation’s depression rate.

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