Holden is at a difficult age and struggling with his transition into adulthood. He is also dealing with the trauma of losing his younger brother and feels isolated at Pencey Prep, where he considers everyone a phony. Holden's lack of maturity and social skills influence his emotional state and contribute to his self-destructive personality. At the beginning of the story, Holden attacks Stradlater after his date with Jane Gallagher. Holden is particularly close with Jane and fears that Stradlater made sexual advances toward her. Following the altercation with Stradlater in the bathroom, Holden says,
I felt so lonesome, all of a sudden. I almost wished I was dead.
Holden's loneliness influences him to entertain the idea of committing suicide. His comment also depicts his mental instability and need for social interaction.
After Holden leaves Pencey Prep, he wanders aimlessly throughout New York City and even solicits a prostitute. Holden does not engage in intercourse with Sunny and gets into a fight with her pimp named Maurice. Following his second altercation, Holden says,
I wasn't knocked out or anything, though, because I remember looking up from the floor and seeing them both go out the door and shut it. Then I stayed on the floor a fairly long time, sort of the way I did with Stradlater. Only, this time I thought I was dying. I really did. I thought I was drowning or something. The trouble was, I could hardly breathe.
Holden's comments and actions highlight his loneliness. He is in desperate need of a genuine friend but continues to interact with insensitive strangers, who only make him feel worse.
Holden then travels to Central Park in hopes of seeing the ducks. It is freezing outside, and Holden is left alone with his own thoughts. Once Holden reaches the pond, he sits down on a bench and says,
Finally I sat down on this bench, where it wasn't so goddam dark. Boy, I was still shivering like a bastard, and the back of my hair, even though I had my hunting hat on, was sort of full of little hunks of ice. That worried me. I thought probably I'd get pneumonia and die. I started picturing millions of jerks coming to my funeral and all.
Holden proceeds to contemplate his own funeral and thinks about how everyone would react to his death. His dark, grim thoughts are a result of his loneliness and feelings of desperation. The reader understands that Holden needs to have a long, meaningful conversation with Jane, but he continually avoids calling her.