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Holden's Depression and Self-Doubt in Salinger's Catcher in the Rye Essay

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As Eugene McNamara stated in his essay “Holden Caulfield as Novelist”, Holden, of J.D. Salinger’s novel Catcher in the Rye, had met with long strand of betrayals since he left Pencey Prep. These disappointments led him through the adult world with increasing feelings of depression and self-doubt, leading, finally to his mental breakdown.
Holden’s first betrayal was that of his memory and innocence by an egotistical peer. At Pencey Prep, he roomed with a student named Stradlater; the epitome of a teenage jock. Stradlater was openly very vain; as Holden stated as he watched Stradlater gaze at himself in the mirror, “he was madly in love with himself. He thought he was the handsomest guy in the Western Hemisphere” (27). Because of his inflated ego and good looks, Stradlater figured that he would steal the breath from any girl he wanted. To Holden, he admitted that the girl of the hour was a “Jean Gallagher” (31). Here was the betrayal: this “Jean” and the Jane that Holden had spent childhood summers with playing a cool game of checkers on the porch were one and the same. Holden had ...


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