Cultural Assumption 2: Mental Health in The Catcher in the Rye

Mental illness in the 1950's was not accepted in society. You became an outcast if your behaviour and actions weren't the same as others. Throughout Catcher in the Rye, Holden's actions and behaviour match that of psychological disorders. J.D. Salinger conveyed this through his use of different language techniques of Holden. J.D. Salinger's repetition of Holden experiencing headaches, nausea, worrying, dizziness and eventually passing out tells us that there's something wrong with Holden, more than your average teenager in the 1950's. J.D. Salinger has also used emotive language and colloquial language. An example of emotive language is when Holden has violent outbreaks, like breaking all the windows in the garage the night Allie died, or tackling Stradlater after his date with Jane or screaming at Sally in public. An example of colloquial language is "flunking" out of multiple boarding schools. Holden seems to be depressed all the time. All of these symptoms that Holden is expressing tells us that he has a mental illness. This may include anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression or post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

J.D. Salinger challenges the cultural assumption of mental health in the 1950's through Holden as more people were trying to help himthese including Mr Spenser and his sister Pheobe. Ackley and Stradlater, on the other hand, would ignore Holden and his negative ways. Salinger also challenges this idea by illustrating negative thoughts through Holden.

Comment Stream

2 years ago

Hello again,
You have introduced your topic well, by stating that you are considered an outcast. To help introduce your topic more maybe you could talk about the concept of puberty, and teenagers not knowing how to deal with their feelings because the concept of "puberty" didn't exist. You could also talk about people who were mentally ill got sent to mental institutions, where they didn't get the best treatment possible. Through your blog I can clearly state that the assumption you have picked is "Mental Health". I really liked the way you stated Holden's feelings that could depict he has a mental illness, to further enhance this you could add examples from the text where Holden talks about his constant headaches, how he always is nervous and how he says that he worries a lot, this will back up your writing. You could also add examples from the text of how much he states that he is depressed and how he constantly has suicidal thoughts. I could clearly distinguish that your chosen element was "language" and I enjoyed the bits you added about his colloquial and emotive language. You could also talk about how mental health at the time, influenced the character and J.D Salinger to add more description to your writing, how does mental health link to the time and place? I can evidently recognize that the author is J.D Salinger but you haven't really talked about what you think J.D Salinger's view is on mental health. You could say that J.D Salinger questions this cultural assumption by using Holden as a character that has a mental illness. Salinger rejects the idea that teenagers should be ignored and left to deal with their emotions themselves , they need help. To back this up, you could talk about how Holden's parents are never home and they never contact him, teenagers need love and support from their family and that could be one of the reasons why he has this problem.
Our blog posts are fairly similar, although I have added a few more quotes.
Overall, I loved reading your blogs and wish you all the best for your task.

Taylah Hayes