• After Holden is beaten by a pimp demanding payment for the prostitute he hired, but didn’t have sex with, his depressive state makes him feel suicidal. “What I really felt like, though, was committing suicide. I felt like jumping out the window. I probably would’ve, too, if I’d been sure somebody’d cover me up as soon as I landed.” Even his time with the prostitute isn’t one that makes him feel better, “I know you’re supposed to feel pretty sexy when somebody gets up and pulls their dress over their head, but I didn’t. Sexy was about the last thing I was feeling. I felt much more depressed than sexy.”
  • Receiving gifts, materialism, and money has no meaning to Holden. instead, they merely further his depression: “Almost every time somebody gives me a present, it ends up making me sad.” He remarks again later, “Goddam money. It always ends up making you blue as hell.”

More Holden Caulfield Quotes

  • Holden has difficulty understanding that everyone has to grow up at some point in their lives. He struggles with the idea of protecting childhood innocence. “While I was sitting down, I saw something that drove me crazy. Somebody’d written “Fuck you” on the wall. It drove me damn near crazy. I thought how Phoebe and all the other little kids would see it…” Holden does not want children, namely his sister Phoebe, to grow up because he feels that all adults are corrupt and “phonies.”
  • After spending the day at the zoo with his sister Phoebe, Holden realizes for the first time in a long time, he feels happy. He recognizes the carefree way that Phoebe rides the carousel, giving him hope that maybe life doesn’t have to be that complicated, “Then the carousel started, and I watched her go round and round … All the kids tried to grab for the gold ring, and so was old Phoebe.”
  • Despite Holden’s desire to run away and find a new purpose for life, Phoebe alters his course of action, “Then what she did—it damn near killed me—she reached in my coat pocket and took out my red hunting hat and put it on my head. ‘Don’t you want it?’ I said. ‘You can wear it awhile.'” In this symbolic moment, Holden feels accepted by his sister and decides that he will go home (instead of going out West) to get some help.

Lesson Summary

“The Catcher in the Rye” takes place over three days, in which Holden’s depression progressively worsens. After Holden’s brother, Allie, died his emotional world turns upside down and he cannot grasp reality or the need to grow up. He struggles with loneliness, feelings of suicide, and discontentment with the world. Despite his being afraid of disappearing from his life, he has suicidal ideations that are perpetuated from thinking about his deceased brother, and his conversations with him. Holden wants to die to escape life and the pain his depression causes him, but at the same time, he fears it. Holden tries to feel something by drinking, hiring a prostitute, running away from both his parents and himself, but nothing helps him. Even hearing others laugh, receiving gifts, and giving to charity make him depressed.

Holden’s use of repetitive phrases such as “just for the hell of it,” ” phony,” and his constant cursing also demonstrates his difficulty to interact with others. Quotes showcasing Holden’s depression include, “New York’s terrible when somebody laughs on the street very late at night. You can hear it for miles. It makes you feel so lonesome and depressed” and “Allie, don’t let me disappear. Allie, don’t let me disappear.” Allie, died his emotional world turns upside down and he cannot grasp reality or the need to grow up. He struggles with loneliness, feelings of suicide, and discontentment with the world. It takes the intervention of his sister, Phoebe, for Holden to open his eyes and realize that he needs help.

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