Protagonist of "The Catcher in the Rye" by Jerome D. Salinger

At just sixteen, Holden Caulfield has gone through numerous traumatic events that shape his life. He seems to suffer from Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder without truly knowing how to deal with it. PTSD is divided into three groups: intrusive, avoidance, and hyperarousal, all of which Holden displays. After his brother, Allie, dies, Holdens life slowly begins to crumble because he never truly figures out how to deal with this major trauma. Holden was in the hospital during Allies funeral, and therefore never got the chance to really say goodbye.

The only thing Holden has left of his brother is the baseball glove Allie used to wear, making it one of the most important items in Holdens life. The glove is a physical representation of Holdens emotions and his connection with his brother.

Allies baseball glove is obviously very important to Holden. When Holdens roommate asks for a descriptive composition about a room, Holden agrees, but instead decides to write about his brothers left-handed fielder’s mitt… that had poems written all over the fingers and the pocket and everywhere.

In green ink. He wrote them on it so that he’d have something to read when he was in the field and nobody was up at bat, because it is the most descriptive thing Holden can think to write about (57).

Holden has no problem writing about this glove because hes never had the chance to talk about or process the loss of his brother. Everything about Allie was incredibly unique in Holdens eyes. He was left-handed, he wrote in green ink as opposed to a more mundane color, was interested in both poetry and sports, had red hair but did not fit in the stereotype, and was incredibly intelligent and nice.

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Holdens ability to easily discuss his brothers baseball glove, is an example of an intrusive thought that comes with PTSD, because its all he can think about even though it doesnt pertain to the prompt.

By writing about it, Holden obviously wants to talk about and process it, but does not know how because he does not understand how to deal with any emotions. Holden only shares things that are important to him to the people he really trusts, and because of this, only shows the baseball glove to one person outside his family. For the most part, Holden keeps the baseball glove hidden, much like he keeps his emotions hidden behind fa?ades.

After learning of Allies death, Holden smashes all the windows in the garage and has to go to the hospital to be psychoanalyzed, missing the funeral. His violent response shows the hyperarousal aspect of PTSD. Hyperarousal refers to the heightened state of anxiety and fight-or-flight response that occurs after a traumatic event. Missing this final opportunity to say goodbye, Holden cannot let him go completely. Besides being the final chance to say goodbye, it is also a ceremony that shows the finality of death, something that is difficult to comprehend without actually being there to witness the burial.

Without the full comprehension of the death, Holden needs Allies glove as something to ground him about the death. He keeps it close to him at all times, much like his emotions. Holden admits  [Jane] was the only one, outside my family, that I ever showed Allie’s baseball mitt to (24). Holdens family would have seen the baseball mitt when Allie was alive, but after, there was no reason for anyone to see it unless Holden showed them. This is similar to how he lies constantly about how he is feeling in order to not appear vulnerable in front of people.

Holden’s dream in life is to be a catcher in the rye. As children run off the cliffs towards adulthood, he wants to catch them and protect their innocence. Holden needs someone to be this catcher for him, especially after Allie dies. He explains, Every time I’d get to the end of a block I’d make believe I was talking to my brother Allie. I’d say to him, “Allie, don’t let me disappear. Allie, don’t let me disappear. Allie, don’t let me disappear. Please, Allie.” And then when I’d reach the other side of the street without disappearing, I’d thank him (25).

Like a baseball mitt catches a ball, Holden wants Allie to catch him before he disappears. The disappearance seems to refer to death which is something Holden appears to want. He talks a lot about how depressed he is, but since he has had traumatic experiences with death having both his brother die, and his friend jump off a building, death is not actually something Holden wants. He also has a skewed sense of mortality because he does not know how to deal with death. Talking to Allie shows his avoidance towards death. Avoidance refers to the guilt, depression, and worry that causes Holden to talk to Allie.

Holdens connection with his brother is represented through the baseball glove that he carries with him. However, since their connection is broken and Holden does not have a chance to process, he experiences symptoms of PTSD. He shows intrusive thoughts in his vivid flashbacks and involuntary memories; avoidance in his guilt, depression, and worry; and hyperarousal in his angry outbursts and apprehension. By not processing the death of his brother correctly, Holden only worsens the symptoms of PTSD and is forced to use his connection with Allie in the form of the glove as a crutch.

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Protagonist of "The Catcher in the Rye" by Jerome D. Salinger. (2019, Dec 02). Retrieved from

Protagonist of "The Catcher in the Rye" by Jerome D. Salinger
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