Honors English 10
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...