What is Holden’s mental and emotional state in The Catcher in the Rye? How do you know?

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

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Holden is suffering from several psychological problems (that we all suffer from), but his are compounded because he is still in the grieving process, due to his younger brother Allie's death.  Holden is stuck in the denial, anger, and depression stages of Kubler-Ross' grieving process.  His anger is manifested in passive aggressive verbal attacks and self-inflicted pain (the incident with Maurice; talk of suicide).

He is also sexually repressed, according to psychoanalytic theory.  He cannot rationalize his physical (sexual) desires with his emotional denial of them.  Therefore, he expresses his "id," childlike self to others in the form of lying and lashing out (verbally) at society (everyone's a "phony").

He is also morally conflicted: he does not want to participate in the materialistic adult world, and so he rebels to the point of near suicide.  He admits to being a coward; otherwise, he would have killed himself like James Castle (his ideal hero).  Instead, he offers a rebellious middle-course (similar to Mercutio in Rome and Juliet).  He lashes out verbally in order for others to hurt, or even kill, him (like the way Tybalt kills Mercutio).

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pechito | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

in my opinion. he emotion state is a tipical teenage cause he is looking to be loved but at the same time he hates people so I say he is a confused boy

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