What depresses Holden?He is always depressed about things, but what is the truth behind all of these little things that depresses him?

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mstultz72's profile pic

mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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A. "Now he's out in Hollywood, D.B., being a prostitute. If there's one thing I hate, it's the movies. Don't even mention them to me" (2).

1.   So begins Holden Caulfield’s caustic assault on the Hollywood studio, a symbol of burgeoning 1950s materialism and artistic hypocrisy and, closer to home, the corruptor of his brother's fiction.

2. Since Catcher in the Rye was published in 1951, Salinger has always refused film rights to his work, especially his highly demanded novel, saying in short that Holden Caulfield wouldn't like it

3. Paradoxical love/hate relationship: Holden rarely misses a chance to see a movie

4. After Maurice punches him, Holden role-plays a movie gangster pretending to be shot in the gut, a masochistic homage to Film Noir

5. But what caused Salinger to turn his back on film was the 1950 Samuel Goldwyn Studio release of My Foolish Heart, based on his New Yorker story, "Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut"

6. Salinger’s agent received bid from Steven Speilberg

B. Holden hates autobiographical details about his childhood and psychoanalysis.  He therefore, hates the adult world intruding on childhood.

“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me”

C. Holden is also depressed by the old World: he's Anti-European: “…and all that David Copperfield kind of crap” (Dickens)

1.     most European characters define themselves in context of family

2.     Holden is saying that he doesn’t define himself with others or the past (birth of the American rebel)

a.     Not defined by family

b.     Not defined by society

c.     Not defined by old world values

d.     Not defined by old literature

e.     Not defined by old movies

D. Holden is depressed by “Phonies”

1.     Glad-handing adults (headmaster)

2.     Over-sexed teens (Stradlater)

3.     Pretentious snobs (Luce)

4.     Celebrity-obsessed girls (in Lavender room)

5.     Materialistic artists (D.B.)

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I would say I can think of at least three things that depress Holden.

  • He is really sad because of the death of his brother Allie. He thinks about Allie all the time, he talks to him, he brings his baseball glove to school, stuff like that.
  • He is a spoiled kid.  His parents don't really seem to be doing anything to try to get him on track.
  • Maybe because of this last thing, he is completely aimless.  He has no idea as to what he wants to do or who he wants to be.  That would be pretty depressing.

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