As a result of his brothers death, Holden Caulfield, of J.
D Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, views himself as a failure in comparison, which causes Holden to become depressed and angry taking out his frustrations on those around him. Holden struggles with his self esteem and being able to measure up to Allie, his brother who passed away and his younger sister, Phoebe. He feels his other brother D.B is a sellout by writing screenplays for Hollywood.
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The loss of his brother and his own self esteem issues cause Holden to lash out at others. He does not want to get close to others in fear of also losing them. The lack of effort in school shows that he does not have motivation to want more in life. Holden’s desire to run from his problems only seem to make matters worse.
Allie Caulfield, is the redheaded left handed brother of Holden, who happen to also be a genius. Holden thought highly of his younger brother, he was the smartest and nicest kid according to Holden. “But it wasn’t just that he was the most intelligent member in the family. He was also the nicest, in lots of ways. He never got mad at anybody. People with red hair are supposed to get mad very easily, but Allie never did, and he had very red hair.” (Salinger 38)Holden thought a lot of his brother so when Allie passed away from Leukemia, Holden had a more than difficult time. Allie was only 11 years old when he died, Holden was 13 years old.
“I slept in the garage the night he died, and I broke all the goddam windows with my fist, just for the hell of it. I even tried to break all the windows on the station wagon we had that summer, but my hand was already broken and everything by that time, and I couldn’t do it. It was a very stupid thing to do, I’ll admit, but I hardly didn’t even know I was doing it, and you didn’t know Allie.” (Salinger 38) The loss of his brother profoundly had an effect on Holden. He became depressed and showed less thought to others.
Holden makes quick harsh judgements of others and a negative perspective of what they say and do. Holden judges Mr. Ossenburger, the wealthy undertaker of Pencey High where Holden goes to school and lives in the Ossenburger dorm wing. When Mr.
Ossenburger gives a speech at the school chapel Holden is very cynical of it, “He told us we ought to think of Jesus as our buddy and all. He said he talked to Jesus all the time. Even when he was driving his car.
That killed me. I just see the big phony bastard shifting into first gear and asking Jesus to send him a few more stiffs.” (Salinger 17) Holden believes most people are phony and are not being real. There are not many people he respects or likes, however when he does he tends to find reasons to push them away and be judgemental of them as well. Mr. Spencer was his history teacher at Percy Prep, who even though he flunked Holden, Holden still liked him. Holden flunked all his class there but Mr.
Spencer was the one teacher he did respect while at school there. When he heard that Mr. Spencer was sick Holden wanted to say goodbye to him one last time, since he no longer went to school at Pencey Prep.
When he saw Mr. Spencer he didn’t like that he looked frail and weak. He tries to look past it but has a hard time not judging him for it. When Mr. Spencer starts giving Holden a lecture about his future and not flunking classes anymore, Holden decides not to stick around to listen to it and leaves. He reflects back on how Mr. Spencer brought up his Egyptian paper and is angry with him for it.
“He put my goddam paper down then and looked at me like he’d just beaten hell out of me in ping-pong or something. I don’t think I’ll ever forgive him for reading me that crap out loud. I wouldn’t’ve read it out loud to him if he’d written it—I really wouldn’t.
In the first place, I’d only written that damn note so that he wouldn’t feel too bad about flunking me.” (Salinger 12) He knew it wasn’t a good paper, he was giving Mr. Spencer a reason to flunk him and not feel bad about it. He felt Mr.
Spencer felt bad anyways. Holden does not let himself get close to anyone and will find reasons to push them away by complaining about them and judging them. Even when he knows they are trying to help. The cynical nature that Holden views the world from and looking at life from a negative perspective causes Holden to become depressed. His depression sends him into a circling vortex of bad decisions, such as when he is expelled from numerous schools for not maintaining good grades.
Holden has had a lot of pain in his life after losing his brother, he doesn’t feel the world is a good place and hates the “phonies” who pretend it is. This only makes life more depressing in his eyes. “One of the biggest reasons I left Elkton Hills was because I was surrounded by phonies. That’s all. They were coming in the goddam window. For instance, they had this headmaster, Mr.
Haas, that was the phoniest bastard I ever met in my life … I can’t stand that stuff. It drives me crazy. It makes me so depressed I go crazy. I hated that goddam Elkton Hills.” (Salinger 13-14) Holden attended Elkton Hills before Pencey Prep, he says the reason he left was because he didn’t like the phonies. His depression continues to spiral and towards the end of the novel Holden is at his most depressed state, almost reaching the state of insanity. His depression makes him feel like disappearing.
He feels that the life that he has now is hopeless and he craves for an escape to something better. After leaving Grand Central Station Holden walks along 5th Ave. Each time he crosses the street he feels he will disappear, while part of him wants to disappear he also fears he will be forgotten and alone. He talks with Allie, his deceased brother, for comfort. “I’d say to him, ‘Allie, don’t let me disappear.
Allie, don’t let me disappear. Allie, don’t let me disappear. Please, Allie.’ And then when I’d reach the other side of the street without disappearing, I’d thank him.” (Salinger 198) Allie disappeared from Holden’s life and now Holden has a fear of disappearing from his own life as well. Holden Caulfield feels like a failure compared to his brother Allie after he passed away, this leads to his depression and frustrations with others because the once, shining light of his brother, has now passed away.
Holden’s life was forever changed the day his brother Allie passed away. He thought so much of his brother and held him on such a high pedestal that Holden didn’t feel he was ever able to measure up. Though his brother had seemed to outshine him at such a young age, Holden had a great love and admiration for him, that had greatly affected his life when he was gone.
Holden became depressed and angry with the world. He didn’t understand why people were so phony and fake when there was so much pain that was happening. He wished people would just be more honest and real with their lives. This caused him to be pessimistic and annoyed with others, further adding to his depression. Holden lost motivation to apply himself in school which resulted in being dismissed from multiple schools.
Holden not only lost a brother, the day that Allie died, he also lost the roll model in which he looked up to despite him being younger.