Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye – Character analysis

“Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.”

After a long, learning experience a confused teenage boy concludes his journey with these few words. Holden Caulfield, the protagonist in the novel, Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger suffers from a nervous breakdown and falls into a state of depression He has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. As his psychoanalyst, there are several ways that could help Holden regain his mental stability. One of which is going back home where he can have the most support from his family. Moreover, he needs social interaction to heal his anxiety disorder so he needs to be placed in a school. Lastly, Holden can be put on medication to suppress his anxiety and to pull him out of his depression. These strategies devised to help Holden have both positive and negative results. However, each plan can help Holden recover from his breakdown.

By going back home to his family, Holden will be surrounded by the people that love and care about him the most. Learning from Holden’s experience, he feels comfortable and happy around his little sister Phoebe. He is able to confide in Phoebe about anything and everything.

For example, he tells her how fake the people at Pencey are and how bad the school is. In addition, he explains in detail about his fantasy job of catching children, which he describes to Phoebe as,

I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around — nobody big, I mean — except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye, and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be. I know it’s crazy…

Therefore, he feels comfortable telling Phoebe his wildest and most bizarre thoughts. This would help Holden to express his anger and resolve it. He also feels intimate with his older brother DB. Although Holden is in fear of disappointing his parents, they still care about him and love him the same. By sending him to a psychoanalyst, it shows his parents want their son to be a healthy young man. With the emotional support he needs, Holden can recover from this nervous breakdown. He will be able to confront his problems and no longer hold back. However, living at home can also be a stressful situation which may cause further anxiety. The new anxiety caused by his surroundings could lead to another breakdown.

Thus, placing Holden in an environment in which he could have social interaction will help him get over his anxiety disorder. He is still very young and needs to finish high school. Holden should be placed in a public school, rather than a private one. He has failed out of three prep schools so he needs a different learning atmosphere. Public school will take unnecessary stress away from Holden. The prep schools Holden attended previously gave tremendous pressure to succeed academically. This could be the cause of his choice to fail the majority of his classes. From analyzing his IQ test, it shows that he has the potential but not the motivation to succeed in school. Even though public school will give Holden yet another to chance to try learning in school, there is a possibility that Holden will just repeat what happened with the other three schools he went to. In addition, he is a very nonchalant person and quite frankly to him it might not matter if he fail out of a private school or a public school. Holden tells the reader frankly, “So I got the ax [from school]…” However, he needs social interaction and communication with other people or else he will never overcome his anxiety. But, putting him a new social atmosphere might not be the only way to save Holden from his anxiety and depression.

Furthermore; a different solution to suppressing Holden’s anxiety is medication. Holden should be prescribed with an antidepressant such as Prozac. The medication will avoid Holden from having another anxiety attack and cure him of his depression. It will smoothly transition him back into a social environment. However, the setback to the medication is that it maybe a temporary solution and it could not permanently fix Holden’s problem. Since he is such a stubborn person, he may refuse to take the medication. Also, this medication does not cure all patients and could possibly not help Holden. But, thirty-five million people use Prozac and it is most common and successful antidepressant.

On the positive aspect there is clinically proven better chance of him getting better than other ways of helping. Going on medication is the only solution that guarantees an improvement in Holden’s behavior.

After reviewing Holden’s predicament it is clearly evident that putting him on medication is the best way to cure his anxiety. The medication is a proven solution to depression and anxiety. In addition, it will stop him from further confusion and despair.

Holden warned the reader of not telling anyone anything because you might start missing them. This shows that Holden could be missing what he had previous to the catastrophe he went through, which is his happiness and sanity. The medication will bring back his sanity and give him the ability to live a healthy life. Therefore, it is a much better chance of Holden becoming better with prescription medication than sending him to a public school or having him live at home.

Furthermore, if the medication does not successfully work, there are other solutions to fall back on. In addition, without eradicating Holden’s problem from the root it will never be fully resolved. The medication will stop his anxiety and depression before it stops Holden from living a healthy life. By his remarkable concluding thoughts, he is confused about what he should do Thus, he continues to regress from society, hoping to escape facing adulthood and the harshness of reality.

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