In the book The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger published in 1951, there is a boy named Holden Caulfield, who was kicked out of his old school for failing almost all of his classes. He then takes a train to New York where his family lives and spends the weekend there. During that time many unfortunate things happen to him, such as, getting punched in the stomach, being mugged, and getting punched in the face. All of these things can be a haunting idea to anyone and to a child it has awful effects on mental fortitude. I believe that Holden's brain is so messed up that he does irrational things out of his inability to think clearly. Holden is suffering from his own teenage mental issues, innocence and stress.
A child's innocence is a very important thing for them to keep. The shorter a child has their innocence the worse it can be for them mentally and physically. "The parts of the brain responsible for more 'top-down' control, controlling impulses, and planning ahead—the hallmarks of adult behavior—are among the last to mature." (NIMH). In shorter words the brain matures naturally slower when it comes to grown-up behavior. Holden was exposed to these things at a very young age, smoking and drinking at the age of 16 (and maybe even younger). This leaves Holden to be a lot less cordial, and monumentally more belligerent. In the book Holden attempts to kill his roommate because that he might forced himself onto a girl Holden once knew. "All I know is I got up from the bed, like I was going down to the can or something, and then I tried to sock him, with all my might,right smack in the toothbrush, so it would split his goddam throat open." - Salinger 43. No human in their right mind would ever think to do something like that unless they were influenced by some side effect of something that has happened in their lives, such as drinking. A child has just attempted to kill another human. If that isn't a sign of a loss of innocence I don't know what is.
Caulfield in the green corner, Stradlater in the Yellow. Llllllllllllllllllllllet's get ready to RUMBLLLLE!
Stress affects people of all ages, from kids in elementary school conforming to the newest fads trying to fit in, teens studying for a test they feel that they are going to fail, to adults preparing for a meeting that they must present an essay they made. Holden gets stress through the thought of his parents finding out that he got kicked out of school because of his bad grades. "Hormone systems involved in the brain's response to stress are also changing during the teens. As with reproductive hormones, stress hormones can have complex effects on the brain, and as a result, behavior." (NIMH). In a more concise way of saying, as you go through adolescence stress is a key factor as you grow. Holden had just ordered a hooker to come to his door and have sex with him. He then made an excuse as to why he could not have sex with the girl. He gave her the money in which he owed her, (she asked for more, but he rightfully declined) and then she left. "After Old Sunny was gone, I sat in the chair for a while and smoked a couple of cigarettes. It was getting daylight outside. Boy, I felt miserable." - Salinger 98. This stressed him out, therefore he got some cigarettes out and smoked them to relieve this stress, after that, the hooker's pimp made him pay extra money, and punched him in the gut. To relieve this stress, he drank a bottle of bourbon. "Old 'Maurice had plugged me. Now I was on the way to the bathroom to get a good shot of bourbon or something to steady my nerves and help me really go into action." - Salinger 103. Holden's stress levels are always high due ti the consequences of the actions that he makes. To then balance out the stress in his life he has to drink and smoke. Which also goes along with the first paragraph about his innocence.
Stressing about upcoming test
Holden's loss of innocence and his stress levels bring him to such an emotional state that some think that he has a mental disorder. In fact, I believe that it is just the effect of how his life unfolds around him. His innocence, or lack there of, has driven him to be a messed up child. His stress makes him drink and smoke, which is him trying to reconstruct his life by balancing his stress out. Holden needs professional help and he needs it soon.
National Institute of Mental Health. “The Teen Brain : Still Under Construction. “ National Institute of Mental Health, 2011, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-teen-brain-still-under-construction/index.shtml, 3 Feb. 2017
Salinger, J.D. The Catcher in the Rye. Little, Brown, and Company, 1951.