I think that the author understands something about human nature that I myself have never understood. For some reason, some people just do not think that they are worthy or good enough to be happy and enjoy themselves. They have some sort of complex where they think that everyone else is more deserving of things than they are, and they are miserable because of it.
Whenever Holden has something that is better than what someone else has he gets really depressed. He tells a story about once when his suitcases were better than his roommate’s suitcases, and he even felt like trading with his roommate (Salinger 108). He feels really bad about having something better than what someone else has, so much so that he wants to trade with his roommate.
Another thing I noticed is that some of the only times in the book when he is happy are when he is doing something nice for someone else. He feels really good when he buys his little sister a copy of a record he thinks she would like (Salinger 116). At the end of the book, he get very happy again after he buys his little sister a bunch of tickets for the merry-go-round (Salinger 213). I understand feeling good after doing something nice for someone else, but it seems like the only times when he is happy are the times when he does some good deed. Couple that with how horrible he feels when he has something better that someone else, and you get a pretty good picture of someone who thinks very poorly of themselves.
Another thing that is pretty interesting is that he does not apply his self in school. It almost seems to me that he does not feel worthy of a good education, so he throws it away. I may never understand people like that at all, because when I hear about things like that I can only think that if he worked in school and did well he would have a reason to value his self.
Salinger, J. D. The Catcher in the Rye. Boston: Little, Brown and, 1991. Print.