Book Review The Catcher in the Rye

The novel “The Catcher in the Rye” written by JD Saliner is set around the 1950’s, from the perspective of a young boy named ‘Holden Caulfeild’ who himself is the protagonist. The novel is one of the most famous stories about teenage mental health and depression. Throughout the novel there are many giveaways on Holden's experience with mental health and depression.

Point 1- what are the causes of Holden's mental health issues?

In the novel Holden reflects on his own traumatic experiences. We can see this when Holden states “I was only thirteen, and they were going to have me psychoanalyzed and all, because I broke all the windows in the garage”, he tells the reader this at the beginning of the novel when he tells the story of his younger brother Allie. When Holden was 13 his younger brother Allie passed away from leukemia, and it still has an impact on him and his mental health. The theme of mental health occurs again when he tells us that he’s been kicked out of four schools. “They are all such phonies” he tells us, “and the schools are all so misleading”. With this you can assume that Holden doesn’t like school that much after that Holden tells u about his parents, how his father is going to kill him when he finds out that he got kicked out of another school. “They're quite touchy about anything like that, especially my father. They're nice and all--I'm not saying that--but they're also touchy as hell.” What I got from that was, his parents don’t understand him, they don’t understand why he keeps getting kicked out of school, why he’s not focusing. Holden also gives off the intention in the book that his parents were careless when his younger brother died. Later on in the novel Holden goes back to telling us about Allie's death. “I broke all of the windows just for the hell of it” clearly from this you can see that Holden isn’t aware of his behaviour and mental health. When Holden goes back to see his younger sister he starts telling us this traumatic experience he had when he was in school. He was around 16 and one of his mates James, was being rude to these boys, and then everything backfired. “What they did to him was too repulsive to tell”. Holden, then says that all of a sudden he heard a THUMP. And looking out the window all you could see was blood and teeth scattered everywhere. This incident has still affected his mental health and has made a bigger impact on his depression. In the novel Holden doesn’t actually tell us that he has depression, there were quite a few hints. On every page of the novel Holden tells us that he is depressed. Whether it was a young girl waiting for her friends in a park, Holden will comment “that depressed the hell out of me”, or even if someone says, ``Please, Holden will comments, “that depressed me”. Here it is obvious that Holden is dealing with a mental illness.

Point 2- Effects and how he coped

Holden Caulfeild coped with his depression and mental health in many different ways and he talks about all of his strategies during the novel. Holden frequently uses smoking as a way to separate himself with people and his difficulties. In the 50s it was “normal” to smoke, and if you didn’t smoke then you’ll get mocked. This, for Holden, created a high pressure environment causing Holden to feel compelled to smoke in order to ease his depression and so he can release stress. He also does the same thing but with alcohol. In the novel Holden has very easy access to alcohol. Throughout the book it seems that everytime Holden gets depressed he turns to alcohol. In chapter 12, Holden is at Ernie’s nightclub and gets served drinks even though he was a minor. And in chapter 20, holden gets drunk. As I previously stated, “I broke all the windows just for the hell of it”, he clearly took his anger and sadness from the tragic loss of his younger brother and to cope he broke all of the windows in the garage. “He depressed the hell out of me”, Holden says this a few times in the novel when he sees someone thats a “phoney”. What I can see here is that Holden judges people on the way they dress or even talk, and when he does so, he doesn’t even see his own “phoniness”. He judges others to make himself feel better. Holden often lies to himself to ease the emptiness and guilt he has to live with. Holden tells us that “I really felt like comminting suicide” (104). Even though we did not have proof that Holden was depressed, but with his suicidal thoughts and statements, we could tell something was wrong.

Point 3

Each year in our society the ratings and reports of depression and suicides are increasing year by year. In the year 2017 and 2018 the suicide rates were the hightest that it has ever been, with 668 people taking their own lives. It was the fourth year in a row that the number has increased. On the Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall show, the number of maori suicide rates was realeased, it was the highest records of suicides since records begun. This lead to 142 deaths. In the Catcher in the Rye Holden judges people from the way they look, but this isn't just in the book. Maoris are getting stereotyped and are ending up taking their lives because of it. “We never realise when someone is dealing with depression”, stated, unknown. I felt that this connected to the novel because Holden is keeping his feelings and emotions to himself and is never talking to anyone about his depression. “I wanted to talk about it. Damn it. I wanted to scream. I wanted to yell. I wanted to shout about it, but all I could do was whisper, “im fine” “. Holden says this in the novel when he wanted to express how he felt, but he couldn’t so he just kept it to himself.

From this, it made me think that we need to be more aware about others who might be experiencing the same loses as Holden.


In conclusion we can tell that Mental health and depression is a big theme in The Catcher in the Rye. The novel has made me think more deeply about mental health and how sometimes we just can’t tell if someone is dealing with depression. Mental health is still a big problem in today's society, books like The Catcher in the Rye give a snapshot of people living with these health problems, the more we know about situations like Holdens the more we can understand learn from and help others. 2019-06-20 02:53:32

Throughout my life I have overcome many trials and tribulations. Nothing I had experienced would have prepared me for the series of events that would come after the birth of my daughter. While nothing out of the ordinary presented itself during the pregnancy itself, it did surface when I went in to be induced. What was supposed to be a loving experience to remember quickly turned into one of the most frightful. I did not realize at the time this event was meant for me to grow as an individual.

Every mother expects for the perfect birth of their first child, never expecting much change in direction from her first arrival. Perhaps it was an omen as soon as I went into the birthing room before the sun was up when the computer system went down. Our nurse had to do manual tracking of the heart beat as I patiently waited best I could. It wasn’t long before my doctor broke my water in hopes it would speed up the process. Progress was slow and it wasn’t too much longer before our nurse started to notice inconsistencies in the heartbeat. Finally, the doctor arrived and started to review the readings. He didn’t want to make any haste decisions right there and called for an ultrasound to be done. It was during the ultrasound when he realized the contractions were causing fetal distress and called for an emergency C-section.

Within minutes my life was thrown into a state of confusion and turmoil. My daughter barely let out a gasp when I realized she had been delivered. Doctors became frantic and shook their heads while inspecting her. That is when I was told she couldn’t breath and they were bringing her down to the NICU. I saw her face for a flash of a second before she was fiercely rolled out of the room. Hours after the frenzy of my daughter’s birth I was finally able to see her. There she was wrapped in a blanket with tubes in her nose for oxygen and food. The only thing I was told was that she had a cleft palate and an air pocket in her lung. The doctor that admitted her into the NICU did not know what caused the issues and kept ordering tests.

We left the NICU after two months with no answers and an army of specialists. All blood work, genetic testing, ultrasounds, and screenings returned with normal results. While a syndrome could not be tied to my daughter, we did get individual diagnosis of: isolated Pierre Robin sequence and failure to thrive. We were now booking appointments with a geneticist, cranial-facial surgeon, ENT specialist, and a speech feeding therapist. I did not have time to think about what was happening, but instead what I thinking about what I needed to do next.

Three years after that traumatic event I have been able to see the challenges my daughter has overcome and it encourages me every day to continue to be the best advocate for her and for myself. She has had eight major surgeries with complications at every turn, but she has always persevered. I have learned to speak up and take charge of a critical situation without panicking. She has taught me patience. Many times I have found myself rushing through a situation without realizing my surroundings and consequences, but now I take a step back and wait for the fluster of emotion to subside before responding. Gaining a new insight into a medical complex child’s world has taught me valuable life lessons that will forever be with me.