Mental Illness in Catcher in the Rye

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The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger is a novel about a 17 year old teenager, Holden Caulfield who has flunked out of his third school. Holden runs away, returning to New York City. He does not contact his family there, but instead travels around the city for two days. The novel is an account, at once funny and tragically touching, of Holden’s journeys in New York. Many people have asked the question that whether Holden is a normal teenager or mentally ill? Holden and his journeys in the book offer ample chance to discuss mental health and emotional distress. Although Holden’s most actions may reflect those of a normal teenager. He is socially inept, awkward with people and has a set of ideals by which he lives which indicates that he is suffering from depression. Holden is suffering from a mental disorder which is caused by the death of his brother Allie of which he has not allowed himself to grief properly. In Chapter 5 Holden talks about his brother Allie and what he did after he died. He says “I was only 13 and they were going to have me psychoanalyzed and all, because I broke all the windows in the garage”. Holden narrates that he smashed windows of the garage and cars, and he literally lost it. His family was also trying to get him psychoanalyzed because of his actions. After leaving Mr. Antolinin’s house, Holden goes to the train station. He reads a magazine over there and says, “The magazine said that if you had any sores in your mouth that didn’t heal pretty quickly, it was a sign that you probably had cancer. I’d had this sore on my the inside of my lip for about two weeks. So I figured I had cancer”. Holden reads a magazine which shows symptoms of cancer and he believes that he had cancer and will die. According to The Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Health one of the symptoms of depression is “recurrent thoughts of death”. (Laurie J. Fundukian) He

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