Essay on Grief and Bereavement in The Catcher in the Rye

Essay on Grief and Bereavement in The Catcher in the Rye

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   The Catcher in the Rye has been described, analyzed, rebuffed, and critiqued over the years.  Each writer expresses a different point of view:  It is a story reflecting teen-ager's talk--thoughts-emotions--actions; or angst.  I believe it is an adult's reflection of his own unresolved grief and bereavements.  That adult is the author, J.D. Salinger.  He uses his main character, Holden, as the voice to vent the psychological misery he will not expose -or admit to.

If there are 785 instances of profanity in the book, I contend there are well over a hundred scenes where Holden used the word depressed.  D"Ambrosio presents this same thought saying, "It should be obvious by now that I don't see The Catcher in the Rye as a coming of age story . . . adolescence isn't the source of Holden's outsized feelings"(37). 

      The experience of being in a state of grief is not limited by age but by experience.  The symptoms of a person experiencing bereavement and grief are found throughout the book.  These symptoms not only apply to Holden and his situation, but also are accepted as classic symptoms recognized by the Grief Counseling Community.  The story is replete with the phrases "I felt so lonesome; I almost wish I was dead; it was so depressing; it was so quiet and lonesome out; feeling sort to lousy; made me sad; I felt miserable; felt like committing suicide; jumping out the window; sitting on an atomic bomb; blue as hell; felt like getting stinking drunk; can't sleep."

 The critics who perceived this book's central theme to be teen-age angst miss the deep underlying theme of grief and bereavement.  Ambrosio asks the question, "Is silence for a writer tantamount to suicide?  Why does the wr...

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...2. Letters as Literature. Reviewed, Aaron Blanton. 6p.

Lipton, M.D., Merrill I. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Springfield, Ill: Charles C. Thomas, 1994.

 Pattanik, Dipti R. "The Holy Refusal': A Vedantic Interpretation of J.D. Sallinger's Silence."  Melus 23.2, (Summer 1998): 113, (15). Ebsco.

Salinger, J.D. The Catcher in the Rye.  Boston, MA: Little Brown, 1991.        

Salinger, Margaret A. Dream Catcher. New York: Washington Square, 2000.

Staudacher, Carol. Men & Grief, A Guide for Men Surviving the Death of a Loved One, a Resource for Caregivers and Mental Health Professionals. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger, 1996.

Washington State Government: "Washington States Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Counseling Program. Web 23 April 2015

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