If Holden talks to Ms. Morrow on

If we do not accept change in life, we cannot accept change in other people. In J.D. Salinger’s novel Catcher in the Rye, the main character, 16-year-old Holden Caulfield, is a struggling teenager with depression wandering around the streets of New York downtown. When we first meet Holden at the beginning of the book, Holden is in Pencey Prep, and he is constantly complaining about everyone around him. Several points on how to improve your mental hygiene in Dr. Murray Bank’s speech on “How to Live With Yourself” are shown in Holden as he shifts from childhood to adulthood. As Holden Caulfield, the main character, develops into a more understanding character after he learns how to deal with his depression and hatred of phonies, we learn that having insight into our own conduct can lead us to better mental health. The repetition of the word “phony” in the novel shows that Holden is extremely bothered by it. Phony people are wealthy, charismatic, and attractive people that try to make something out of nothing. Holden continuously talks about how much he despises people that are “phony,” but his hatred of phonies slowly cause self-destruction. For example, in Chapter 8, when Holden talks to Ms. Morrow on the bus, he pretends to like her son Ernest Morrow, but in reality, he thinks badly of Ernest. Dr. Murray Banks teaches us that it is important to have insight into our own conduct in order to live with ourselves; one can see this principle in Holden throughout the book. In Chapter 3, Holden confesses “I’m the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life. It’s awful”. Even though Holden is being hypocritical towards phonies, he acknowledges his own faults. This quote shows that Holden’s mental health can improve and that he is growing up and increasing self-awareness. Holden’s mental health also shows to get better when he calls up Sally in Chapter 20 because he wants to spend time with her, and help her trim her Christmas tree. In Chapter 9, Holden states, “Then I thought of calling this girl I used to go around with quite frequently, Sally Hayes, because I knew her Christmas vacation had started already–she’d written me this long, phony letter, inviting me over to help her trim the Christmas tree Christmas Eve and all.” In the beginning, Holden’s judgemental personality prevented him from socializing and finding friends so Sally’s letter was highly significant to him. He still remembers her letter after a long time. Towards the end of the book, he becomes more tolerant of those around him and is willing to create new friendships. One of the main factors leading to Holden’s depression is that Holden is not socially adjusted. Dr. Murray Banks encourages us to be socially adjusted in order because being with others and interacting successfully with others is a very important part of sound adjustment. Holden has difficulty socializing with people and in Chapter 3, he expresses his feelings by stating, “I was trying to feel some kind of good-by. I mean I’ve left schools and places I didn’t even know I was leaving them. I hate that… If you don’t, you feel even worse”. Holden wants to make connections with people at school, but he feels too pressured and it’ll end up depressing him. The author also portrays Holden as an outcast which is an obstacle for him when he wants to make friends. Holden wears a red hunter hat several times in the novel. His red hat symbolizes individuality and his uniqueness. Holden’s hat reveals to give Holden the confidence he needs when Holden declares “That hat I bought had earlaps in it, and I put them on–I didn’t give a damn how I looked. Nobody was around anyway” in Chapter 13. When Holden is feeling lonely, he wears his hat, and it comforts him by making him feel less vulnerable. As Holden progresses further in his life, he lets go of his dismissive side by becoming more understanding of change and letting go of his childhood. For example, another factor of Holden’s depression was being in a constant state of loneliness, and Holden has always sought a friend that he could trust and be there for him. He only liked Allie and Phoebe, but after Allie passed away, and Holden transferred to Pencey Prep, his life flipped upside down. Dr. Murray Banks emphasizes that it is crucial to have a confidential relationship with some other person. Holden searches for this one person throughout his childhood. Holden’s next door neighbor used to be Jane Gallagher, Holden’s childhood crush. Jane and Holden’s relationship was innocent, and Holden simply liked her because she was genuine, and she listened to what he had to say. In Chapter 7, Holden states, “I held hands with her all the time, for instance. That doesn’t sound like much, I realize, but she was terrific to hold hands with. … We’d get into a goddam movie or something, and right away we’d start holding hands, and we wouldn’t quit till the movie was over. And without changing the position or making a big deal out of it. You never even worried, with Jane, whether your hand was sweaty or not. All you knew was, you were happy. You really were.” This passage from the novel describes Holden’s true feelings towards Jane. After Holden leaves Pencey Prep, he is desperate to find a companion. Holden calls up hookers, flirts with women at bars, and calls up Sally Hayes even though Holden thinks she is a phony. Even though Sally flirts with other boys on her and Holden’s date, Holden still enjoys her company. At the end, seeing Sally flirt with other people makes Holden miss Jane even more because Jane was loyal to him. Liking Jane also represents Holden holding onto his innocence from his childhood. Holden is challenged with his fear of change and wants to stay in his childhood innocence forever. Holden visits a museum that he used to go to when he was a child and he says, “The best thing, though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was. Nobody’d move. You could go there a hundred thousand times, and that Eskimo would still be just finished catching those two fish… Nobody’s be different. The only thing that would be different would be you. Not that you’d be so much older or anything. It wouldn’t be that, exactly. You’d just be different, that’s all.” This quote says a lot about Holden’s view on life. He wants life to be simple; everything should be black and white. Adolescence is something that Holden values because he fears growing up and wants to grasp onto his innocence. At the end of the book, Holden’s character develops, and we can see that he cares for the people around him. Holden ends up giving his red hat to Phoebe. In a way, Holden is letting go of his childhood and telling Phoebe to cherish her childhood while it lasts.     Because Holden couldn’t accept change in his life, he faced difficulty accepting change in other people. Luckily, Holden’s willingness to socialize with people around him, including the phonies, lessens his depression and feelings of loneliness. In addition, once Holden lets go of his childhood, he is able to grow up while staying true to himself. Through Holden’s journey from childhood to adulthood, we learn that the best way to take care of our mental health is to deal with our problems and focus on the future instead of the past. 

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