Catcher in Rye

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Justin Romualdez

Ms. Pennington

Honors English 10

Period D

2/4/12

Museum of Natural History: Holden’s World

“The best thing, though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right

where it was.” –Holden. In the story Catcher in the Rye, author J.D Salinger delivers

many reasons that show how strong the symbolism of the Museum of Natural History is.

The Museum of Natural History holds sentimental value to Holden. That place is where

Holden spent his childhood and held many memories. The symbolism of the Museum of

Natural History can be found in many aspects of the story, which is why it happens to be

the most important and strongest symbol in the novel.

The description of the Museum of Natural History that Holden gives, can

symbolize the mindset of Holden. Holden describes the museum as: “The best thing,

though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was. Nobody’d

move. . . . Nobody’d be different. The only thing that would be different would be you.”

Inferring to the quote shows that Holden does not like change. People that change are

“phonies” to Holden. “Phonies” are fakes or people that do not stay the same. Holden has

many memories of the museum because the many times he had to go there for fieldtrips.

In Chapter 16 and 17, Holden goes off about the Eskimos and Indians. The displays are

frozen to Holden, they are always there and always stay the same. He could judge the

displays, but they could not judge him back.
Another way in, which the symbolism is shown through the Museum of Natural

History is the comparison of the Museum and the Real World. To Holden the Museum of

Natural History is the world he would like to live in, but in reality there in no such world.

The world he wants is just like the museum. The museum never changes, always stays

The same, and is something that cannot judge him. This also resembles the world of the

“Catcher in the Rye.” The world of the “Catcher in the Rye” is a place of innocence and

no change. The sad thing about this is there is no world like that. In reality, the world,

people, and things change. Changing is a part of human life and is something that always

occurs. Holden does not like reality because things change and do not stay the same.

Holden does not like “phonies” or people with truculent attitudes. The Museum of

the Natural History and the Real World show the world that Holden wants to live and the

world he currently lives in But later on, reality and change become things that Holden

soon has to realize.

The last aspect that shows the symbolism of the Museum of Natural History is

when Holden tells his sister Phoebe to meet him at the museum. This even can be

identified special in many ways. The whole point of the meeting was for Holden to give

back the money to his sister Phoebe. Going back, Phoebe had gave him the money

because he asked for it. Holden had cried because his sister came through for him and

always seemed to be there when he needed someone. Holden tells to Phoebe meet him at

the museum to return the money. He chooses the museum as a meeting place because

how important that place is to him. This place never changes until Holden takes a look at

the wall in the Mummy Exhibit. It had cuss words that offended him and made him

angry. Because of the cuss word written on the wall, Holden faints. He faints because the

one place he thought was “phony free” changed. This becomes the pinnacle of when

Holden starts to realize things change.

To sum up, the story Catcher in the Rye by J.D Sallinger shows many reasons on

why the Museum of Natural History is the most important symbol in the novel. The

Museum of Natural History shows much important because the meaning and impact it

has on Holden. The three aspects...
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