I first read about the misadventures of Holden Caulfield when I was a fresh-faced girl of around sixteen, and I didn't quite understand the book back then. I thought it was because my English was rather crumby and all, but when I re-read it I don't think the impression I got was very different or anything.
Old Holden mentions Shakespeare's Hamlet in the book, and I think the boy was right on. He says Hamlet was a "sad, screwed-up guy", which exactly describes Holden himself. He goes around feeling depressed as hell, and then he'd get nervous, or he'd suddenly cry. He keeps ranting about how people are all phonies, but he hangs around with them anyway. He gives all this crap about hating the movies but goes to see them anyhow. He's the one who goes out with a girl just because she's pretty and despite the fact he can't stand her, but he calls everybody else phonies? I think he should get a goddam mirror. I'm not kidding.
But aside from that, I can see how he got to that state. It seems that his brother Allie's death messed up with his head a little instead of just his hand. Also, I didn't like the book that much when I first read it but the ending stuck with me for a long time — Holden not going away because his little sister Phoebe asked him to. That scene killed me, I swear to God it did. So in the end I guess I feel for old Holden, who deep down is actually a good boy. He just needs some help to get his head straight.