The effect of bereavement on the adolescent psyche in J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye
This article examines the problematic coming of age theme present in J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. It explores the novel’s young and troubled protagonist Holden Caulfield’s resistance to the process of maturity, due to his inability to recover from the death of his younger brother, Allie. This pain translates into Holden’s intense subscription to idealistic illusions, most prominently his desire to become the saviour figure ‘The Catcher in the Rye’, in which he saves children from entering into adulthood. Holden’s distressing objection to the process of maturing is due to the guilt he harbours, as he believes he should have saved Allie from his illness, in his role as the older brother. His inability to let go of his past trauma and move towards a more resilient future alienates him from the world and ultimately leads to his emotional breakdown, of which the novel chronicles. Therefore, the psychological effects of bereavement on Holden’s adolescent mind and his coming of age journey can be scrutinised closely.