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Imagine a life where every encounter—no matter how trivial—was imbued with hidden meaning. In The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger presents Holden’s experiences as a series of snapshots that, when viewed in sequence, present a moving image of one teenager’s harrowing transition to adulthood.
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© 2016 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
Not only does Holden attempt to physically separate himself from his problems, but engages in destructive behaviors to try to take his mind off of them. After Sunny, the prostitute, leaves Holden’s room, he starts talking to himself about Allie, and then “smoked another cigarette… [he] must’ve smoked around two packs since [he] left Pencey” (100). Holden’s method with dealing with his depression is to smoke, because he thinks that it will make him think less about his problems. However, all he is doing is digging himself a bigger hole as addiction becomes an issue as well. The original problem of not properly dealing with Allie’s death becomes more pronounced instead of being combated. Another outlet Holden tries to utilize is alcohol. Later in the night, after Luce leaves Holden along at the bar, he keeps drinking for five hours, “getting drunk as a bastard. [He] could hardly see straight” (150). Holden thinks that this will combat his loneliness, but often times, he ends up craving company and then calling people on the phone while drunk. Although this happens multiple times, he never learns what he is doing wrong and repeats the same actions. Holden needs to learn how to appropriately cope with his depression and the death of his brother, because it had never been properly addressed in the past. His avoidance only maximizes his problems’ longevity, and the only effective way Holden can get rid of his problems is to deal with them, not prolong them and let them fester. Holden’s conduct during the extent of the book demonstrates the ineffective tendencies that teenagers have to distract themselves from or run away from their problems. Holden wants to forget about all the troubles he has in his life, but never succeeds—because what he was trying to achieve was not possible. His problems were never going to go away until he addressed them head on; the fantasy of achieving a total removal from his problems simply fell . Holden’s initial desire to totally evade the pain of his problems resulted in his breakdown. Not until the end of the book, when he is in a mental hospital, does he understand what helps him overcome his depression. For him, it is discussion with the doctors and his brother that helps him start to overcome the pain of his little brother Allie’s death and the blame he fixes onto himself. Ultimately, the only way to get rid of your problems is to deal with and solve them, whether by yourself or with the help of others, but never to run away. Related posts: