Catcher

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According to the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs, in the U.S. alone, 5.5 million teens suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, which is approximately 4% of teenage boys and 6% of teenage girls. PTSD is a mental health disorder triggered by a traumatic event, in a person’s life and causes depression, anger and loneliness along with aggression, out-of-place sexual behavior, self-harm, abuse of drugs or alcohol, low self-worth, and not being able to trust others. Although only a small number of people are diagnosed with PTSD, most people have felt the effects of at least one of its symptoms in some way after a traumatic incident in their life. Consequently, a literary character that is experiencing many of these symptoms is easy to relate to for many readers due to the fact that they understand what the character is going through. One stellar example of a character displaying the majority of the symptoms of PTSD is Holden Caulfield in J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. Because of Holden’s timeless struggles, along with the novel’s historical setting and important life lessons, Catcher in the Rye is a crucial book for high school students to read.

Although Catcher in the Rye was written over 60 years ago, Holden Caulfield is still a character that many teens can relate to because of his Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms, his need to rebel and his loneliness. Because of the death of his younger brother, Allie, Holden shows many signs of grief and PTSD including self harm, alcohol abuse and aggression, things that many people can relate to in one way or another. For example, when Holden is in his hotel room, he ponders the idea of suicide and tells the reader, “What I really felt like, though, was committing su...

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...thout forcing them upon you. Also, Salinger uses his novel to force society to address social issues previously ignored in that era including mental health disorders and sexual orientation. Especially after World War II, many people were suffering from disorders like PTSD, but never seeked treatment due to the lack of acceptance of mental weakness at the time. Though Holden, Salinger shows that after traumatizing events, people need others to help them cope and to show the public how hard it was to receive the help people needed. He aimed to change society with this novel and succeed, it raised many questions and is believed to help lead to a more accepting community. If more authors were brave enough and talented enough to write about controversial topics like Salinger, society would be a more accepting and diverse place where everyone could live together happily.

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