What Are Holden Caulfield's Flaws

Good Essays
In the novel “The Catcher in the Rye”, the protagonist Holden Caulfield demonstrates his unusual behaviour. The narrator introduces the story of an emotionally damaged teenager whose suspicions and personal issues prevent him from being “normal” in a society full of phonies that he does not seem to get along with. It becomes clear that Holden has clouded judgement as he rides an emotional rollercoaster of mood swings with the people he likes, and dislikes. Therefore, it becomes obvious that some of his personal flaws include his distrust, depression, and unreasonable attitudes and thoughts are based on his underlying emotional problems. Holden Caulfield has a variety psychological problems, such as his skepticism, depressive behaviour, and…show more content…
In many cases throughout the novel, Holden tells the reader of his feeling of deep sadness, and even admitting his depression. However, in most of these cases, his sadness is triggered by little events or situations. For example, when he explains his feelings about the phony Elkton Hills headmaster talking with his well-dressed parents, he says, “It makes me so depressed I go crazy” (Salinger 14). His feelings about the headmaster are interesting, because it shows that he overreacts and has depressive thoughts for little, unreasonable things which most teenagers at his age typically don’t experience. Also, Holden even considers committing suicide multiple times throughout the novel. During his short time in Manhattan, just the thought of his yellowness and his gloves being stolen at Pencey Prep depresses him to the point where he decides to have more alcoholic drinks after a night in the town. After a night in which Holden didn’t socialize the way he wanted to, he feels so depressed that he wished he died. These instances are important, because it shows that his feelings are unreasonable, and as a result, his depression affects his rational…show more content…
Even though he is skeptical of people he considers phony, such as Marty who lies about seeing a movie star, his negativity and judgement of others usually goes a lot farther than what is considered normal. For example, he doesn’t get serious in relationships with others, because he always seems to find flaws in everyone. Another example is when Holden’s history teacher at Pencey, Mr. Spencer, wants to understand why he refuses to put in any effort. Spencer feels bad about failing Holden and reaches out to him, trying to connect with him and possibly influence him positively. However, Holden gets upset and starts talking poorly of him once he hears this, and later excuses himself with a lie he made up to leave, showing both his self-defence mechanism and his skepticism towards people he liked. Also, when Holden wakes up to Mr. Antolini patting him on the forehead in the middle of the night, he tells us of similar “perverty” stuff that happened to him multiple times as a child. Therefore, he clearly struggles to trust anyone he both meets and knows, which shows his insecurity and skepticism of others. Another instance of this is Holden’s relationship with D.B. Although Holden says that they were once close, he now considers D.B. as phony because of the work he does in the film industry. In doing so, he loses a close relationship with his brother, just because he feels
Get Access