Diagnosing Holden Liz DiPiano


In 1951 J.D. Salinger published The Catcher in the Rye, a book about a 16 year old who experiences depression. He tells a story about a 16 year old boy who experiences struggles after he is kicked out of yet another private school,Pencey. Once he leaves Pencey he travels to New York City where he's on his own. Holden is slowly trying to become an adult but always shies from the situation trying to keep his innocents along with others'.

Depression: Feeling hopeless

Most people who have depression starts to have "feelings of hopelessness" (NIMH). Holden's behavor becomes more erratic when he begins to stop caring about things, such as his appearance. Holden start exhibiting this symptom of hopelessness and carelessness when he is kicked out of Pencey. Holden expresses in a letter he attached to his essay that Mr. Spencer can "Flunk" him by saying, "Dear Mr. Spence [he read out loud]. That is all I know about Egyptians. I can't seem to get very interested in them although your lectures are very interesting. It is all right if you flunk me though as I am flunking everything else except English anyway. Respectfully yours, Holden Caulfield" (Salinger 12). Holden here has already started showig signs that he is giving up by letting his grades fall. Later on Holden tells us that he started smoking more and hinted that he begins drinking more. Holden says "Finally, I sat up and in bed and smoked another cigarette. It tasted lousy. I must've smoked around two around two packs since I left Pencey" (Salinger 100). Holden hits at his drinking by bringing up the fact that he Kept sitting there getting drunk...(Salinger 149). Holden publicly smoking and drinking at a young age shows he doesn't care how others view him anymore. Holden's drinking possibly made his depression worse.

Where do the ducks go?

Depression: Thoughts of Suicide

Another major sign of depression that Holden experiences is "thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts" (NIMH). Salinger writes,"I do that sometimes when I get very depressed" (page 98). Right here it says that Holden is depressed! Later on Holden gets into a plight with a guy named Old Maurice and lays in his bed Holden expresses that, "what I really felt like, though, was committing suicide. I felt like jumping out the window" (Salinger 104). Holden begins to think suicide is the only way out because of how horribly wrong his life has been going in his eyes. Later on while Holden sees the nuns collecting money for the church Holden starts thinking about a kid, names James Castle, who went to Elkton Hills with Holden. Its strange he started thinking of his because he committed suicide at his school while Holden was in the shower. Holden can relate to James because he feels stuck in his life too. He also can feel a connection with James because when he died he was wearing Holden's sweater.


In 1951 J.D. Salinger published The Catcher in the Rye, a book about a 16 year old who experiences depression. The reason to believe Holden suffers from depression are because he exhibits signs of hopelessness and stops caring. Holden also expresses thoughts of suicide perratically throughout the book.


Salinger, J. D. The Catcher in the Rye. N.p.: Little, Brown, 1951. Print.

"Depression." National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Web. 07 Feb. 2017.


Created with images by 50 Watts - "M. S. Corley, Catcher in the Rye (entry for the 50 Watts' Polish Book Cover Contest)" • Alexas_Fotos - "ducks figures group"

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