Let’s do some word counting: variations of “depressed” or “depressing” occur 41 times in Catcher in the Rye. “Happy”? Five. As in, you can count them on one hand. Yep, we feel pretty comfortable saying that “sadness” is a major theme. Holden is just—well, today we’d probably call him clinically depressed. He has no apparent reason to be so bummed out all the time; he just is. The question is, is this sadness a rational response to how awful the world is? Or does he just need some good old-fashioned talk therapy?
Isolation is the greatest source of Holden's melancholy in The Catcher in the Rye.
The more Holden connects to other people in The Catcher in the Rye, the more depressed he becomes.