Catcher in the Rye – Holden’s State of Mind

In the article “The C world in the Hallways,” Ann Quindlen elaborates that adolescent murder is awful; however, it can be avoided. Quindlen substantiates her claim by providing comprehensive details and definite statistics. The author aims to pass the message about murder so that many parents would understand what their children go through at school. Quindlen presents her ideas in a serious tone for the readers to perceive the seriousness of the problem. The movie “Dead Poet’s Society” 1989 is a masterpiece by Peter Weir. This film is based more on the independence of man. It elaborates how this man should live and view his life. The screenplay features a teacher named Mr. Keating, who has come to a boys school that is accustomed to boys who need to abide by their parents and guardians’ unyielding anticipations concerning their education process. The teacher’s unconventional tactics use poetry to enable the boys to respect their identity and desires the lessons Keating issues from poetry and literature. “The Catcher in the Rye” is presented in the first-person style, with holden being the main narrator and protagonist simultaneously. The book allows the reader to make individual conclusions about the type of student Holden is.  The essay presents an argument and a counterargument about Holden’s state of mind.

By reading the book “The Catcher in the Rye,” I see that Holden must have been ailing from some mixture of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD). Holden himself regards psychoanalysis, mental illness, and trauma (Salinger 30). He calls himself a ‘madman’ and acknowledges that at one point, his parents wanted him to get psychoanalyzed, and all these began after he broke the window pane to the garage. This is also highlighted by other characters in the book who ascertains the mental illness that holden is going through. Therefore, Holden would have still become violent, based on his mental state. Ann Quindlen holds that insufficient mental care is the biggest reason behind teenage murders. The article “The C Word in the Hallways” supports this allegation by positing that Kip Kinkel, aged 17, had been hearing strange voices from the age of 12 (Quindlen, par. 2). An indication that something as minor as voice can result in a big issue. In the movie “Dead Poets Society 1989,” teacher Keating encounters boys going through similar pressure from their parents. The parents want them to excel in their academics, and Mr. John Keating realizes. Consequentially, he applies unorthodox approaches to enhance the learners’ understanding. With such help as Neil Perry, Todd Anderson learns to get out of their comfort zone and chase their dreams and end seizing the day (Weir). This similar pressure is what Holden goes through until it implicates his mind’s status to the extent of requiring the help of psychoanalysis.   

But scholars would take this issue with the argument that he frequently uses the second person pronoun “you,” meaning he was not referring to himself. If he had not been taken to the hospital where his father worked, nothing dangerous would have occurred. However, Holden is a protagonist who is seen deteriorating in his state of mind. For example, he pretends to know people, but he has no good touch with them. He says, “The truth is you did not know who Stadler is. I know him many people like old jane just like I understand a book.” (Salinger 30).  While he claims to know people within his neighborhood, hesitation to contact Jane implies that he is uncomfortable with these as he expects the reader to believe it. The case of Holden is almost equal to that of Kip Kinkel from Quindlen’s article. The writer supports this claim by arguing that if Kinkel wanted to know him as harmless, he would have had the guts to reach out to his parents to discuss the issues at hand (Quindlen, par. 5). Perhaps his parents would have understood him better.

Similarly, I maintain that if Holden were of no harm to himself and other people, he would not have accepted to be hospitalized. Instead, he would have approached his parents and discuss the pressures they were subjected to him. The chances are that Holden’s parents referred to him as “madman” because they never understood the struggles he was going through. When the teacher identifies that the boys’ most significant challenge is countering their parents’ pressure, he responds accordingly by offering ultimate help. He becomes friendly with them, which helps them change their mentality and work hard in class. Referring to Holden, I can argue that he allowed himself to reach that dangerous state of his mind because of the fear of finding help from people around him. Just like characters in other sources such as the movie and the articles sought help and improved their mental conscience, Holden also would have done the same. But his condition went to the extreme, and if he had been institutionalized, he would have become more dangerous.

Although I agree that perhaps Holden was not a “madman,” I still insist that it was a good idea to take to him to the hospital to see psychoanalysis. This is because various factors contribute to the unstable state of mind of Holden. These factors include the death of Allie when he is removed from Pencey Prep school and the incident between Holden and Mr. Antolin (Salinger 33). All this scenario amplifies Holden’s mental instability state in “The Catcher in the Rye.” It looks like Holden is in a sorry state of mind. I understand that the proponents of mental health and wellbeing are accurate to argue that intensive suppression of pressure can disorient someone’s ordinary life and day to day activities. Still, they exaggerate when they maintain that it is upon the people attending the implicated individuals to understand what they are going through and intervene for their lives. This is because there are things that are beyond the ordinary human eye and ear. As such, people cannot know what others are going through unless those people tell them. For instance, the teachers were unable to define the pressure that Holden was facing from his parents.

Additionally, the death of Allie adds to Holden’s mental challenges. At this point, I feel like this death is the precursor of the mental problems Holden is facing. He never attempted to handle the pressure from Allie’s death. Consequentially, his emotional and mental states get severely disturbed. In Chapter five of the book, he narrates to the readers how he encountered a nervous attack after getting the news of Allie’s death. Because of distress and pressure to losing Allie through death, he explains how he vandalized all the windows to his father’s garage with only the use of his bare hand (Salinger 40). This is enough proof that if Holden had not gone to the medical facility for mental help, he would be more dangerous and disastrous.

While it is true that many people disagree that Holden did not have any mental challenges that would have sent him to get institutionalized, it does not necessarily follow that all of us should buy to a similar thinking line. This is supported in chapter 25, where we see Holden talking to his brother, and all of a sudden, he starts to feel like he is unable to make it to the other side of the road. This is surprising because if he was not feeling sick, there is no reason to feel that way. It shows that he was dressed, and all he wanted was to die. In the article “The C Word in the Hallways,” Ann Quindlen reiterates that many teenage murderers are victims of insufficient mental healthcare. Because of the same reasoning, I argue that if Holden had not been institutionalized, he would be dangerous and violent due to his mental state. Holden addresses Allie by saying, “Allie does not allow me to vanish,” and eventually, he manages to cross the road he thanks him (Salinger 48). I subscribe to the idea that Allie was among the few people that Holden loved and cared about. He genuinely interacted with Allie more than anyone else, as indicated in the book that he did not have any close relationships. Even when he was still a Pencey Prep student, he had no friends among his roommates.

On the one hand, I agree with the proponents that it was pressure from his parents that provoked Holden to get involved in all these nasty things. However, on the other hand, I still maintain that Holden’s expulsion from Pencey Prep broke his heart, although he was never happy with the school. Holden does not find any fun in his classes, and he only makes it in English. He is a brilliant student, but he does not maximize his potential and portrays poor work habits (Salinger 67). For instance, Holden performs poorly in all his subjects, although he loves reading cumbersome literary classics. The main problem that contributes to this behavior is that he thinks he is the only stupid person in his family, which makes him very depressed. In conclusion, the three sources have highlighted various pressures and mechanisms to address similar challenges. However, based on Holden Caulfield’s mental state, I agree that it was a great idea to take him to a hospital for mental and emotional care. While Holden was a bright student, his state of mind was affected by Allie’s death, expulsion from Pencey Prep school, and the scenario with Mr. Antolini. These occurrences affected the emotional consciousness of Holden, and he was beginning to contemplate suicide and murder until he was institutionalized. Therefore, I firmly maintain that Holden would have committed self-harm or violence toward others if he had not been institutionalized.

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