The Theme Of Death In The Catcher In The Rye

Great Essays
An inescapable aspect of growing up is that parts of life will change. Though one may not like these changes or want to accept them, they must. These changes, like the death of family members or people around them, can mold a person dramatically, and shape the way that they think of themselves and the world around them. The Catcher in The Rye exemplifies this idea perfectly through the main character’s, Holden’s, experiences as he recounts his life and his actions and experiences before being admitted into a mental hospital. Through the character of Holden Caulfield and the idea of death, J.D. Salinger provides a narrative about how the realities of life and modern society can shape a person as they develop and accept those concepts.
At first
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This can be seen as a loss of interest in activities that he may have enjoyed, or just bothered to do before Allie’s death. Another strong clue is how often Holden describes aspects of his life as being depressing. “When I finally got down off the radiator and went out to the hat check room, I was crying and all. I don’t know why, but I was. I guess it was because I was feeling so damn depressed and lonesome.” (Salinger 100) In fact, he uses the word about fifty times to describe either himself or experiences that make him feel this way. Another example that clues the reader in about Holden’s psyche is the amount of guilt that he carries around daily. He’s constantly putting himself down and saying how he does not deserve some of the things that he gets. An example of this is the pair of ice skates his mother gifted him. “One thing about packing depressed me a little. I had to pack these brand new ice skates my mother had practically just sent me a couple days before. That depressed me… Almost every time someone gives me a present, it ends up making me sad.” (Salinger 36) Holden feels guilty because of the fact that he is receiving presents from …show more content…
Depression can be the result of someone unable to deal with the death of people close to them or other horrific experiences. Holden seemingly being unable to cope with these kinds of events it is the root of what J.D. Salinger was trying to get to. Salinger himself was also a witness to death, though on a much larger scale than his character had been. Salinger fought in World War II and infamous battles in the war like D-Day, where he likely witnessed people he had known for quite a while and people like friends die. This obviously would have a profound effect on him and would leave scars for years to come. It is likely that Salinger also struggled, much like Holden, with coping with death and the realities of life. Salinger certainly was not a boy at the time of the war like Holden is in the novel, but he was just as unprepared for the sight of death and evil before his eyes. After the war and the release of Catcher in The Rye, Salinger was a recluse who refused to speak to the public much and did not publish another novel again. He despised modern society and that can be seen in the fact that when Salinger did choose to give interviews, he talked about how people were stealing his work and profiting off his fame and turmoil to write the book. He died doing so, he never came out of his reclusive state. Holden, on the other hand, also grapples with handling modern society and having to grow up so quickly. He

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