Holden Caulfield, the narrator of The Catcher in the Rye, is a troubled man who does not have everything going right for him. He shows obvious signs of depression and a few symptoms of an anxiety disorder. Throughout the book he keeps thinking about his brother Allie, who passed away. The only reasonable explanation for his mental illnesses is that he misses Allie, and he does not know how to function normally again. Everything he does reminds him of Allie in some sort of way. Mental illness is very common in someone who is suffering from the loss of a love one, but it is in no way a normal act of a teenager.
Holden never seems interested in anything that he does. When he goes back to New York, he goes to all kinds of shows and movies and ends up uninterested half way through. When Holden goes to see a movie at Radio City Music Hall he tells a little bit about the movie and then says, “I’d tell you the rest of the story, but I might puke if I did. There isn’t anything to spoil, for Chrissake” (Salinger, 139). This shows that Holden becomes easily uninterested in normal things, which is a common cause of depression. The whole time Holden is in New York, he goes out to things but ends up uninterested extremely fast. The first night he is in New York, an elevator operator gets Holden a prostitute and he is excited and felt sexy. Once the girl arrives and takes off her dress, his mood completely changes and he wants her to leave. He says “The trouble was, I just didn’t want to do it. I felt more depressed than sexy, if you want to know the truth” (Salinger, 96). Just like being uninterested in normal activities is a symptom of depression, so is being uninterested in sex. Holden gets excited and nervous when he talks about sex, but when he has the opportunity he is completely withdrawn from the act and has no interest.
When Holden was slightly interested in something, he was quickly uninterested by random headaches he would get or feeling overwhelmingly tired. He went to visit Mr. Antolini, a former English teacher, but could barely keep the conversation going after getting there. When Mr. Antolini asks why Holden is flunking all his classes, Holden informs us that, “I didn’t feel much like going into it. I was still feeling sort of dizzy or something, and I had a helluva headache all of a sudden” (Salinger, 183). These headaches were continuous throughout the whole book, and this leads us to another common sign of depression. According to Mayo Clinic’s article, “Depression (major depression),” persisting headaches and fatigue are two symptoms of clinical depression. Later on that night Holden says, “It wasn’t that I was bored or anything -I wasn’t- but I was so damn sleepy all of a sudden” (Salinger, 190). Fatigue often crept up on Holden when he was actually interested in something he was doing. This causes him to try to fight off the fatigue which causes him to become agitated.
Anxiety is another illness Holden is suffering with that goes along...