Holden’s unwilling attitude to consider the advice of others restricts him from overcoming his ongoing struggles, and afflicts him with various psychological difficulties. Similar to Othello, Holden is consumed by his apathy towards others and simply neglects to accept the guidance of those around him.
This is evident through Holden contemptuous attitude towards Mr. Spencer and Pencey Prep headmaster, Mr. Thurmer’s metaphoric comparison of life as a ‘game’. Holden masks his true emotions from his teacher and reveals his inner thoughts to the readers: “Game my ass…If you get on the other side, where there are no hot-shots, then what’s a fame about it? Nothing. No game” (Salinger 11). There is a clear disjunction between Holden’s view of life and that of his teachers, which is evident through Holden’s rather impudent diction towards Mr.
Spencer and Thurmer’s genuine concern for his future. He clearly states that there is in fact “No game”, overlooking the relevance of both his teacher’s experience and knowledge. Additionally, Holden’s refusal to accept his psychological problems are seen through his argument with Phoebe. After Holden tells his sister about the various issues at Pencey Prep, Phoebe candidly tells him: “You don’t like anything that’s happening…you don’t like any schools. You don’t like a million things. You don’t” (187). Overlooking his sister’s concerns for him, Holden rejects any idea of change. He reveals that his sister’s response made him “even more depressed” (187) shortly before he averts to thinking about James Castle, a boy who committed suicide at Elkton Hills.
In order to hide his disapproval with Phoebe, Holden digresses to another topic – that of a boy’s suicide. His failure to understand the importance of maturity and being open-minded to the thoughts of others contributes to his obstinate nature and mental suffering from depression. Holden’s refusal to consider the advice of those around him is further seen through his contempt towards his neighboring roommate, Ackley’s warning pertaining his future. After Holden tells Ackley about his plan to join a monastery in a rather disrespectful way by mentioning the monks as “stupid bastards”, Ackley warns him: “Someday somebody’s gonna bash your –” (57). However, instead of listening to Ackley, Holden simply disregards him: “I didn’t even bother to listen to him.
I shut the damn door and went out in the corridor…I’d get the hell out of Pencey” (57). His refusal to even reflect on Ackley’s warning further guides him to run away from situations instead of dealing with them through acceptance, and maturity. Running away from Pencey, and obstinacy to mature ultimately results in his confrontation with Maurice, suicidal contemplations, and various other issues later in the book. Holden’s denial to believe others and amend himself as a person not only reveals his defiant attitude, but also afflicts him with various psychological issues.