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J.D Salinger’s 1950’s novel, The Catcher in the Rye, tells a story about a sixteen year old junior named Holden Caulfield, who recounts the days he spent in New York City after being expelled from his third private school, Pencey Prep. Throughout the book Salinger uses 
symbols and themes to show the feelings of the Holden Caulfield. One of the most recognizable recurring theme is mental illness. New research states, “mental illnesses are so common that almost everyone will develop at least one diagnosable mental disorder at some point in their life,” (Reuben, Aaron and, Schaefer 1). When dealing with depression or any mental illness, it is difficult to live an everyday normal life.  Salinger narrates on the main character Holden Caulfield, as a hostile and negative person who suffers from severe Depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Though many individuals think  J.D Salinger is Holden Caulfield, New Criticism believes this is not possible. New Criticism believes it’s the text that matters-and nothing but the text-should be the main focus of literary study, but because of J.D Salinger’s close similarities in his personal life and those shown in his novel, The Catcher in The Rye, it is only through “Reader-Response theory” that allows the reader to compare the two and find there own meaning of the novel, making the connections that the New Critic’s cannot. 
In Leroy Searle’s essay, New Criticism, he defines New Criticism as a means  “to focus critical attention on literature itself” and to know that “literary text must be treated as a self-sufficient verbal artifact”(1). New Critics, do not utilize aspects such as: authors life experiences, historical context, political context, and ideological practices (1). New Criticism began after World War I, and it was T.S Elliot who helped shape and influence New Criticism and its practice. In suggesting, “that literature could be treated as a simultaneous order, a system”(2), it was he who opened a new way to study literary works. However, it does not work for all Literary works of Art, especially J.D Salinger’s novel, The Catcher in the Rye. 
While analyzing Catcher in the Rye, New Criticism is unfeasible. The traditionalist goal is to have one set interpretation to a particular text, because that is what New Criticism says to do. After all, Catcher in the Rye is too complex to have one meaning. It is better to critically analyze J.D’s novel through the eyes of  “Reader Response Theory”. This enables the reader to read freely. It allows the reader to speak their minds, express emotions, relate to the text, and most importantly showcase what was learned through reading the text. Which is done through research, focusing on the readers opinions and thoughts, and life experiences of the author. Something that New Criticism does not allow. Reader Response fully allows the reader to have there own interpretation, and show personal understanding of the text. Unlike New Criticism, the 
effect that a piece of text has on a reader entirely depends on the amount that a reader can relate to a book or character.
It is through Reader-Response theory which allows us to freely associate the life of J.D Salinger with our critical analysis of his novel. The similarities between the life of Salinger and that of the fictional character, Holden Caulfield, are not coincidental. Salinger parallels the two in his novel. Salinger wrote his life through Holden Caulfield, via his experiences with mental illness, being born and raised in New York City, his academic struggles, inconsistent love life, and exclusive lifestyle. 
What are the signs of depression? In the article , Teen Depression: It’s more than a passing mood swing, signs of depression in teens are, “difficulty with concentration, less motivation and feelings of worthlessness, guilt and possible suicide”(McGill).  In the film Salinger, it was made clear that after serving in World War II in 1945, the aftermath had left Salinger suffering from depression and PTSD and was required to spend time in a mental hospital, just as Holden suffered with mental illness. It undoubtedly had a deep impact in his future life. When analyzing the character of Holden Caulfield, many are quick to state he is unlikeable, annoying, and all-together hypocritical, but what many gloss over is that fact that his behavior was caused  by an unspoken illness. From the beginning of the novel, there were several warning signs of the affects that mental illness had on him internally. He says “I’ll just tell you about this madman stuff that happened to me around last Christmas just before I got pretty run-down and had to come here and take it easy,”(Salinger 1). Teenage years are without a doubt, some of the most confusing and difficult years of a persons life as they make the transition into adulthood. Whats bothering Holden? The psychological reasons for his attitude, outlook on life and wild behaviors  points to depression, PTSD, and the grieving process-due to the impact that death could have on a person. 
Although Holden’s attitude comes across like he doesn’t care about anything, there are  many signs of  depression. At one point  he tells us that life itself, “makes him so depressed,”(Salinger 74) and he “really felt like, committing suicide,”(Salinger 104). A reason for his depression stems from an assortment of different things. It stem’s from three incidents  that occurred in his life. The first being the traumatic death of  his brother Allie. Secondly, dealing with feelings of being “left behind” when his older brother D.B moved to Hollywood. Lastly,  his lack of motivation in life. Holden is your typical depressed teenager that seldom is happy, doesn’t really like anyone he comes in contact with, and ultimately depressed because there is nothing he can do to keep himself from growing up. Throughout Catcher in the Rye, we see another struggle that holden faces, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). According to Encyclopedia Britannica , post traumatic stress disorder is defined as an, “emotional condition that sometimes follows a traumatic event, particularly an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious bodily injury to oneself that creates intense feelings of fear helplessness, or horror”. During two different occasions Holden developed PTSD. The first occasion being the death of his brother Allie. The two were really close with one another. Allie’s death brought about a noticeable change in Holden. The second occasion was when he witnessed James Castle, his former classmate, jump out of a widow and commit suicide. Because of holden’s PTSD he is constantly reliving the past through his brother Allie. As though his brother is his crutch and means of “support”. Holden is not ready to let go. He constantly demonstrates detachment  from everyone and everything. This includes his family, his refusal to make friends in school, and  his lack of motivation in his school work. Holden finds it unnecessary and has stopped trying. He believes he has no future. In fact, he doesn’t want a future, because he doesn’t want to grow up. This detachment is super evident in his academic efforts, when he fails his classes at every school that he has ever been sent too and rebelling against both his parents and teachers. This crisis is addressed when Mr Antolini quotes W. Stekal and tells Holden, “The mark of an immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of a mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one”(Salinger 244 ).This is significant because he’s trying to bring a sense of  realization to Holden. Somethings are just not worth dying for and its important to know the difference. Its important for Holden to reevaluate what he’s doing in his life and recognize whats worth living for. Lastly Holden’s agitation is a sure sign of PTSD. Holden is always stressed out, moody, and constantly irritated about someone or something. There really isn’t a time in which holden is sincerely happy. Lastly Holden struggles to cope with death and the “5 Stages of Grief”. Its a process that everyone must go through when you lose a loved one, Holden is no exception. Although it seems that Holden is calm when talking about his brother Allie,  there is an underlining tone of sadness and grief that comes out from within. “I slept in the garage the night he died, and I broke all the goddamn windows with my fist, just for the hell of it, it was very stupid I have to admit, but I hardly didn’t even know I was doing it, and you didn’t know Allie,”(Salinger 39). Two out of the five “stages of grief” are shown, anger and denial. They are revealed when Holden takes us back to the night after his brothers death. 
J.D Salinger uses Holden Caulfield as an outlook to express himself and share his life. Its no coincidence, that Holden’s shares the same personal history as J.D Salinger. Jerome David Salinger was born and raised in upper New York City, and it is were the setting of the novel takes place. It is also where Holden lives and attends private school. While watching the film Salinger and seeing clips of J.D Salinger himself, it was evident that he was a tall man with a thin stature (2013). In the beginning of the novel, Holden physically resembles Salinger when he describes himself, “…I’m six foot two and a half and I have gray hair,”( Salinger 9). Another similarity that they share is when holden states, ” Im quiet a heavy smoker, for one thing that is,”(Salinger 5).  Salinger was also a smoker, and more often than not he was always photographed holding his “signature cigarette”. 
  By comparing Holden Caulfield and young Salinger’s issue with formal education, many similarities are seen. Holden Caulfield and Salinger both managed to disappoint there parents while getting expelled from more than one private school. In Catcher in the Rye, Holden gets expelled from Pencey Prep. Holden admits, “This is about the fourth school I’ve gone to,”(Salinger 9). Likewise, J.D Salinger was expelled from McBurney School in 1932 and later dropped out of  both New York University and  Ursinus College, never finishing his post-secondary education (Salinger 2013). Its no surprise, that although both managed to flunk out of school, both Salinger and Holden’s character both excelled in english. In chapter four we see Stradlater, Holden’s roommate, comment, “Hartzell thinks you’re a hotshot in English and he knows you’re my roommate. So I mean don’t stick all the commas and stuff in the right place,”(Salinger 28). A direct example of there connections is that both Holden and Salinger managed there High Schools fencing team. Holden completes this connection when he admits, “The reason I was standing way up on Thomsen Hill, instead of down at the game, was because I’d just got back from New York with the fencing team. I was the goddam manager of the fencing team,”(Salinger 3). It is through Salinger’s life experiences , which formed the foundation for his famous novel, The Catcher in the Rye.
The parallelism between Salinger and Holden continue to increase. They shared a certain fascination with youth and the “innocence” that it entails. In the documentary, Salinger, we see his fascination with younger women, when he had a close relationship with eighteen year old, Joyce Maynard. She lived with Salinger for a period of time. After Maynard and Salinger separated,  it is no surprise that he continued to have many more relations very similar to this one (2013). This is reflected through Holden, who shares a similar mindset. Its apparent as Holden tries to preserve innocence in himself and others alike. Holden thinks the way to protect innocence is to never grow up. When Holden’s sister ask him what he wants to be when he grows up, Holden replies, “That’s all I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be,”(Salinger 173). He wishes to preserve innocence as long as he can. It is apparent through Salinger’s experience during his many relationships with younger women and when Holden’s sister Phoebe is trying to reach for the gold ring on the Carousel and he cant help her. They  both realize that no matter how much they want to preserve and protect youth and its innocence, it cant be done. 
The last similarity that Holden and Salinger share is there exclusiveness, and the  life of isolation they both lived. On the very first page he states, “I got pretty run-down and had to come out here and take it easy,”(Salinger 1). It is implied that Holden speaks to us from a place of isolation, a mental hospital or institution of some sort. From the beginning of the novel, he tells us specifically that he’s not going to tell us everything. He says, “you’ll probably want to know what my lousy childhood was like…but I don’t feel like going into it” (Salinger 1). Holden does not want to talk about it. Later in the novel he portrays isolation again when he gets off the train at Penn. He says, ” The first thing I did when I got off at Penn Station, I went into this phone booth. I felt like giving somebody a buzz. I left my bags right outside the booth so that I could watch them, but as soon as I was inside, I couldn’t think of anybody to call up,” (Salinger 54). After this event, Holden names off the four people he could call, but despite everything he chooses to be in isolation once again. J.D Salinger was a man greatly known for his solidarity from the world. It was right after writing Catcher in the Rye, that he was filled with regret and  became very private. Salinger recoiled from his fame, and spent a majority of his life in the remote hills in his cabin writing and being alone. Salinger was a hermit. He also announced this in is novel, through Holden, in which he writes, “I’d build me a little cabin somewhere with the dough I made and live there for the rest of my life,”(Salinger 241). After his last publication in the New Yorker, he became a silent man. He didn’t want to be photographed, didn’t participate in publication engagements for his novel, resulting in total absence of the literary scene. Salinger maintained a private life in the hills of Cornish till his death in 2010.
They say not to judge a book by its cover, however as humans we are flawed and are quick to judge a person with out thoroughly knowing who they are. It is no surprise, many were quick to criticize Holden Caulfield. However, if one must judge the life and personality of  Holden, then they must judge J.D Salinger himself. In conclusion, while reading the novel through the lens of  “reader response theory” , it is how we are able to parallel the life of Salinger and Holden. J.D Salinger wrote his life through Holden Caulfield. If it wasn’t for his life experiences: ranging from suffering with mental illness after serving in World War II, being born and raised of New York decent, struggling academically in Prep and college, his poor love life, and exclusive lifestyle, Holden Caulfield wouldn’t have been brought to life. A fictional character who left an  imprint on anyone who crossed his path. J.D Salinger will forever be known for his solidarity, brilliant works and his remarkable novel, Catcher In the Rye. His novel warped up a magnitude of fame that has left an impression lasting  beyond his years. Salinger always believed that to write was to write for yourself, and your own pleasures. It is through the trials and tribulations of J.D Salinger’s life that we have come to know the Holden Caulfield. (2,679)

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