The Catcher in the Rye

Mentally Manipulated: Holden Caulfield and PTSD 12th Grade

One Johns Hopkins Study determined that 81% of young adults have been exposed to a traumatic event, while 8% of those exposed have developed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (“Blog”). The symptoms of PTSD can be divided into three groups: intrusive, avoidance, and hyperarousal (“Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder”). Psychological trauma of exactly this sort often appears after the death of a loved one. Holden Caulfield, the protagonist of The Catcher in the Rye, is drastically affected after the deaths of his younger brother and of a school friend. Within J.D. Salinger’s narrative, it is clearly shown that the terrible events Holden Caulfield has been exposed to throughout his life have lead him to be affected by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Holden displays intrusive symptoms of PTSD, especially flashbacks.

At the beginning of the novel, Holden introduces the reader to his younger brother, Allie: “My brother Allie had this left-handed fielder’s mitt. He was left handed. [...] He’s dead now. He got leukemia and died when we were up in Maine, on July 18, 1946” (Salinger 43). Holden’s story about Allie is a flashback to when Allie was alive and well. This shows that Holden does not want to believe that Allie has passed away and...

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