How Does Holden Present Grief In Catcher In The Rye

1184 Words5 Pages

As Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler once said, “The five stages, denial, anger bargaining, depression, and acceptance are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost.” Grieving is a heart-wrenching experience no human can escape; whether it’s the loss of a person, a dream, a job, or anything else. The novel The Catcher in the Rye, written by J.D. Salinger, is a great example of the complex concept of the grieving cycle. Holden Caulfield mourns many things throughout the story, including the loss of his younger brother, the purity of others around him, and his own innocence he was robbed of so long ago. At the very beginning of the novel, Holden is kicked out of his school, Pencey Prep, due to his low …show more content…

His unresolved grief and pain mess with his psyche, and Holden reaches some very low points in the story. Some of his lowest moments are clear signs of Holden cycling through the grieving processes, especially when it comes to the stages of bargaining and anger.
Holden displays the grief stage of anger countless times in The Catcher in the Rye, for example, when he fights with his roommate, makes his younger sister cry, or when he had a meltdown in his family’s garage. While Holden is still at his school, Pencey-Prep, he tries to hit his roommate after learning some upsetting news. Holden says, “This next part I don't remember so hot… I tried to sock him, with all my might, right smack in the toothbrush, so it would split his goddamn throat open.” (Salinger 49). In this scene, Holden pounces on his roommate, Stradlater, when he tells Holden he just spent the night with Jane Gallagher, Holden's close childhood friend. Holden had always viewed Jane as a symbol of purity and innocence, so learning that his roommate may have put the works on her leaves him rather devastated. Stradlater is known for his infamous reputation with girls, and Holden knows that deep down …show more content…

It’s thinking about what if and if only. Holden has a couple of these moments throughout the novel, like when he remembers when he used to go out and play with his neighbors. Once, Holden was about to go out to play, and his little brother Allie asked to come along. Holden turned him down and later reflects, “It wasn’t that I didn’t use to take [Allie] with me when I went somewhere. I did. But that one day, I didn’t. He didn’t get sore about it– he never got sore about anything– but I keep thinking about it anyway, when I get very depressed.” (Salinger 110) Holden is melancholy looking back on this because he wishes he could spend more time with his little brother, who passed away when Holden was only 13. There’s nothing Holden can do to change that now, but he feels like being able to go back and change that moment would bring him some kind of peace. Guilt can also be a big part of the bargaining experience, so Holden thinking back specifically to the occasion when he turned away Allie is not surprising at all. Holden acts similarly when he debates calling his childhood friend Jane. Time after time he says "... I got old Jane Gallagher on the brain. I got her on, and I couldn't get her off" (Salinger 76). Holden believes that reconnecting with his old friend Jane might make things better for him. He thinks that if he reconciles with Jane, maybe she could be able to help him, and things would

Open Document