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The Catcher in the Rye

by J. D. Salinger

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What quotes from The Catcher in the Rye indicate Holden's depression about Allie?

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Quotes from The Catcher in the Rye that show that Holden is depressed about Allie include "[My parents] were going to have me psychoanalyzed and all, because I broke all the windows in the garage," "I certainly don't enjoy seeing him in that crazy cemetery," and "I started talking, sort of out loud, to Allie. I do that sometimes when I get very depressed."

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Holden often refers to Allie, his brother who died several years ago of leukemia. His death, which seems meaningless and cruel to Holden, has thrown him into a deep depression. Some quotes that speak to his depression are as follows. In the first one, Holden reacts to Allie's death in a way that alarms his parents about his mental health:

I was only thirteen, and they were going to have me psychoanalyzed and all, because I broke all the windows in the garage....It was a very stupid thing to do, I'll admit, but I hardly didn't even know I was doing it, and you didn't know Allie.

Even when Holden get depressed about events that, on the surface, aren't directly about Allie, the state of being depressed leads him to think about his dead brother. This suggests that the root of his depression is Allie's death and the survivor's guilt he feels over it. In the quote below, Holden is trying to relive a scene from the past in which he wouldn't let Allie join him hunting with BB guns. Now he wishes he had and comforts himself by reimagining himself agreeing to let him come:

So once in a while, now, when I get very depressed, I keep saying to him, "Okay. Go home and get your bike and meet me in front of Bobby's house. Hurry up."

The depth of Holden's pain and depression also comes out when he talks about his issues over going with his parents to visit Allie's grave:

I went with them a couple of times, but I cut it out. In the first place, I certainly don't enjoy seeing him in that crazy cemetery. Surrounded by dead guys and tombstones and all....I couldn't stand it. I know it's only his body and all that's in the cemetery, and his soul's in Heaven and all that crap, but I couldn't stand it anyway. I just wish he wasn't there. You didn't know him. If you'd known him, you'd know what I mean.

Holden clearly feels a deep anguish over losing his brother. This makes him much more protective of people he knows or meets who seem vulnerable to him, such as his friend Jane or the nuns in the diner. He is especially protective toward children, such as his sister Phoebe; this protectiveness spreads to become a longing to protect all children. He says he wants to be the catcher in the rye, saving children before they go over the edge of a cliff.

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There are several scenes throughout the novel in which Holden expresses his dissatisfaction toward life and brings up his dead brother Allie. Following Holden's interaction with Sunny the prostitute, he begins feeling depressed. At the beginning of chapter 14, Holden says,

"Boy, I felt miserable. I felt so depressed, you can't imagine. What I did, I started talking, sort of out loud, to Allie. I do that sometimes when I get very depressed" (Salinger, 53).

Holden then shares a story from his childhood in which he did not allow Allie to go to Lake Sedebego and shoot BB guns with Bobby Fallon. Holden mentions that he felt bad for not taking Allie to the lake with him that day and continually thinks about denying Allie's request to tag along whenever he gets depressed.

In chapter 25, Holden is walking down Fifth Avenue and begins to panic. He mentions that he has the overwhelming fear of falling "down, down, down" every time he steps off of a curb. Holden then begins to pray at each street corner by saying,

"Allie, don't let me disappear. Allie, don't let me disappear. Allie, don't let me disappear. Please, Allie" (Salinger, 106).

Holden's depression, anxiety, and fear are at an all-time high at this moment in the novel. Accordingly, Holden begins to think about Allie. Seemingly every time Holden experiences an overwhelming sensation of fear or depression, his thoughts return to his dead brother. The traumatic loss of his younger brother adversely affects Holden's mental state, and he has never received the proper therapy needed to cope with such a tragic loss.

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In chapter five, as Holden is thinking about what to write for Stradlater's composition, he decides to write about his younger brother's baseball mitt. This opens up the discussion about Allie and how he died from leukemia in 1946. He explains that Allie was two years younger, intelligent, and very kind. He goes on tell about he reacted to Allie's death, which is depressing as well as self-destructive:

"I slept in the garage the night he died, and I broke all the goddam windows with my fist, just for the hell of it. I even tried to break all the windows on the station wagon we had that summer, but my hand was already broken and everything by that time, and I couldn't do it" (39).

The above passage shows Holden acting out because of his grief, anger, and sadness over his brother's death. Then, in chapter 22, Holden is talking to his sister Phoebe about something that he actually likes in life. His answer is Allie, which is depressing because as Phoebe reminds him, "Allie's dead." Holden responds with the following:

"I know he's dead! Don't you think I know that? I can still like him, though, can't I? Just because somebody's dead, you don't just stop liking them, for God's sake--especially if they were about a thousand times nicer than the people you know that're alive and all" (171).

Clearly, Holden is always depressed about Allie because he thinks about him continually. And what he thinks about is that Allie is the only nice person he's ever known. As a result, Holden doesn't trust or respect many other people in his life and he suffers for it. 

Finally, after leaving Mr. Antolini's apartment in chapter 25, Holden is walking around New York lonely and not knowing where to turn next. He thinks of Allie as he goes through a nervous breakdown. 

"Then I started doing something else. Every time I'd get to the end of a block I'd make believe I was talking to my brother Allie. I'd say to him, 'Allie, don't let me disappear. Allie, don't let me disappear. Allie, don't let me disappear. Please Allie.' And then when I'd reach the other side of the street without disappearing, I'd thank him" (198).

With this experience, it is almost as if Holden is praying to Allie to save him from his problems because he is completely lonely, depressed and lost. This shows that everything wrong with Holden can be traced back to Allie's death. If Holden had received the psychological and emotional help he needed at the time he lost Allie, he would not be in the situation that he's in. Holden needed to learn how to deal with this loss through therapy and love from home, which he did not receive. As a result. Holden is continually depressed about Allie's death.

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