5 Life Lessons for Students from The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye is one of the world-famous bestsellers. It was criticized and even forbidden, which only made this book more desirable for many. It became a symbol of nonconformism and riot against society norms and expectations. The novel is still a part of literary discussion and education programs. It is also relevant for today’s students as it teaches some valuable lessons. 

What Privilege Looks Like

Holden Caulfield might be relatable for many with his anger, frustration, and disappointment regarding the world around him. At the same time, he is a privileged boy that deals with problems that are not known for many. He is from a good family that puts him in respectable schools, although he is not happy in them. He feels trapped, and all the schools and people around seem false to him.

Holden’s struggle is, in fact, “first world problems” because he is not dealing with a lack of money or discrimination of any kind. He is bored with what he has and does not appreciate that. The boy is also quite aware of his lack of appreciation but doesn’t know what to do. In a way, it is an excellent representation of Maslow’s Needs Pyramid. When a person has basic needs fulfilled, there tend to appear new, more advanced issues.

Learning about one’s privilege is essential not because one should be ashamed of it, but due to the fact that it teaches us to truly appreciate what we have. Some students might be disappointed with going to any other school except the Ivy League. However, it doesn’t really matter whether if you go to Yale or a community college. It is important what one makes from it. Each opportunity has its own values. 

Running Away Never Works

Holden doesn’t want to deal with problems. He avoids his parents and plans to run away to the West and start over. However, the boy doesn’t do it because his sister says that she is going with him. Their final communication is an amazing example of reverse psychology. However, it is not clear whether Phoebe does it on purpose or not. This is a great way to analyze any situation – approach it from contradictory sides.

Sometimes college life can get too overwhelming with all the tasks to do and essays to write. It is only natural to feel overloaded. However, it is better to address the issue as soon as possible. If one is stuck with an essay or research paper, it is better to use professional help from than postpone the assignment till it is too late. There is nothing wrong with getting assistance as it will reduce stress and give one some time to recharge. 

Signs of Mental Health Issues

At the beginning of the novel, Holden is being treated and hopes to get well soon; he recollects his New York weekend as the one that almost broke him. Essentially, these couple of days he talks about represent mental issues he is dealing with. His boredom and lack of focus can be signs of clinical depression. Lack of appreciation can also be caused by a depressive episode. 

The lesson is simple. Knowing the early signs of mental issues can help in preventing breakdowns. It also ensures getting professional help in time. Overall, students tend to not care about their physical and mental health. They are overloaded with tasks and have no time to sleep well or have proper rest. Perfectionism also leads to anxiety and might result in depression.

Such early signs might go unnoticed. Students might feel down and think that it is because of the study schedule or finals. It is important to remember that self-care is crucial. If one needs help or sees that their mate is struggling, it is better to turn to professionals. 


Saving Yourself

The name of the novel comes from Holden’s idea of what he wants to do. He wishes to catch children that carelessly run around in the rye. This is a beautiful metaphor, where he admits that he wants to save the innocence. This might also suggest that he might want to be rescued himself. 

After all, the teen is the one who carelessly runs around without thinking about consequences. He is a child in the rye that needs to be saved though he doesn’t admit it yet. This teaches us that saving others is important, but caring for yourself is crucial. 

Some students get lost in the educational process. They put all the efforts into being the best. It is good, but it might lead to burning out. College time is an amazing one-time experience. And it is not only about getting the best grades. it is about meeting people, exploring oneself and just enjoying the moment. That’s why each one needs to find time to care for oneself, live in the moment, and relax. 

True Courage is Facing Problems

This is one of the most important lessons students can take from this book. After all, Holden stays in the city and faces the problems. He gets help and remains with his family. Working on the issues might be hard and painful, but it is the only genuinely courageous thing one can do. 

Studying at university can seem scary, but it is essential to stay focused on one’s goals. Try to listen to yourself, have a break, when in need of one. Holden gives a great example of courage when he is not stopping and backing off. Do not let sadness and anxiety get to you, face the challenges and you’ll get over them. 


Final Words

The Catcher in the Rye is not only a beautiful piece of writing. It is all about searching, connecting to people, growing up. These challenges are similar to those that each person might go through. That’s why students of any college or university still love this book and relate to Holden in many ways. After all, the novel is about facing problems and looking for meaning in an absurd world.

About author

Michelle Brooks loves to read, write, listen to music and use words to persuade people. She has worked her way towards being the team leader of content managers. She uses words as weapons, so keep an eye out for her powerful articles. Her Twitter: @michellebrook23