Holden's Depression in J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye

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Everybody feels depressed at some time or another in their lives. However, it becomes a problem when depression is so much a part of a person's life that he or she can no longer experience happiness. This happens to the young boy, Holden Caulfield in J.D Salinger's novel, The Catcher in the Rye. Mr. Antolini accurately views the cause of Holden's depression as his lack of personal motivation, his inability to self-reflect and his stubbornness to overlook the obvious which collectively results in him giving up on life before he ever really has a chance to get it started.

Holden lacks the essential ability to motivate himself, which he needs to survive in the 'real' world. He continues to be kicked out of every
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he had spent his entire life hating.

But like Mr. Antolini tells him,?You?re a student ? whether the idea appeals to you or not. You?re in love with knowledge. And I think you?ll find, once you get past all that, you?re going to start getting closer and closer ? that is, if you want to and if you look for it and wait for it ? to the kind of information that will be very, very dear to your heart?


Nevertheless Holden has so much personal pride he refuses lower him to that level. For if he does, in his eyes, he will be the same as all those other ?Phony Ivy League bastards? (85). As a result of Holden giving up on school, he is unable to proceed with the natural evolution that must occur for him to move on in society. Mr. Antolini later points out to him ?Learning is a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn?t education. It?s history. It?s poetry? (189). His goal for Holden being to see school as something he loves and not something he is being forced to do. Mr. Antolini tried to give Holden a reason to be motivated and in which case not to give up so easily.

Holden is quite skilled at citing exactly what is wrong with other people. However he never acknowledges his own faults. He was sure the entire world was out of step with him. As Alan Stewart explains, ?Holden seemed to divide the world into two groups. He was in one group, along with a few other people such as his little sister, Phoebe, and
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