Holden Caulfield Insanity Analysis

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Holden Caulfield's Sanity Holden Caulfield is a classic literary character, but was he actually insane the entire time? Throughout the novel he makes irrational and foolish decisions that aren't in his best interest. Plus, at times his line between reality and fantasy becomes muddled. Despite that, for most much of the story Holden's ramblings are sound and justified. Holden may just be an emotional teenager coming to fruition with the problems in the world. His level of sanity is difficult to diagnose considering nowadays insanity is only a measurement used in court to determine a defendant's lack of judgment, and isn't an actual medical prognosis. Establishing if anyone is insane or not is always a challenge. Holden's actions and words display …show more content…
Not being able to distinguish reality from fantasy is the biggest sign of insanity. A few times during The Catcher in the Rye, Holden loses his grip on what is real. While walking down the street, he said, "Every time I came to the end of a block and stepped off the goddam curb, I had this feeling that I'd never get to the other side of the street. I thought I'd just go down, down, down, and nobody'd ever see me again" (Salinger 217). Holden truly feels that he is about to fall through the ground and die; he can't tell that these thoughts are just his imagination. Though, his depression may have produced these delusions, since at this point in the novel it was at its worst. Also, at two different instances in the novel, Holden pretends someone shot him and starts to act it out. The first time, he stated "I sort of started pretending I had a bullet in my guts. Old 'Maurice had plugged me... What I'd do, I'd walk down a few floors--holding onto my guts, blood leaking all over the place-- and then I'd ring the elevator bell. As soon as old Maurice opened the doors, he'd see me with the automatic in my hand" (Salinger 116). It isn't clear if this fantasy is a just in his mind or if sincerely believes someone shot him. If Holden believes these fantasies of his, he has a high chance of being insane; if he doesn't, it is less …show more content…
His depression has made him irrational and at times lose his grip on reality. On the other hand, the majority of Holden's thoughts are cohesive and rational. He only loses his grip at certain times, typically when he is depressed. Often, his ranting's show that maybe the world around him is the one that's insane. Holden is much like William Shakespeare's character Hamlet; their sanity is ambiguous. Also, in modern-day, insanity is solely used by the courts to decide if someone is guilty or innocent. Insanity isn't a term in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). So, it is exceedingly difficult to tell if anyone is sane or not, regardless of who they are. It will never truly be clear if Holden is sane or

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