Catcher in the Rye

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Everybody has somebody in this world they can share their thoughts and emotions with. Whether it is a best friend, a co-worker, or even God…someone to talk to is sometimes the only cure to the things you are feeling inside. In the novel Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, Holden Caulfield’s person to talk to, or “confidante”, is his little sister Phoebe Caulfield. At the beginning of the novel Holden describes Phoebe as extremely smart and funny, but as the book progresses her significance in the work progresses too. Much of Phoebe’s life is used symbolically and vicariously of Holden’s at her age. The most important part of the novel is the closing scene when Phoebe is on the merry-go-round. The three symbols used in this final scene (the rain, Holden’s hunting hat, and the merry-go-round itself) all directly correspond to the overall theme of the book.

Phoebe’s character is brought up in many important scenes throughout the novel. Because she is Holden’s confidante, Phoebe is the one person Holden has left to trust with everything. The symbolism used in the final passage of the novel is much deeper than the reader would think. Holden explains himself watching one of the most important people in his life simply go around and round on a merry-go-round in the pouring rain. The symbol of rain has appeared many times throughout the book. . One of the most ironic things about this scene with the rain is that it is almost identical to when Holden explained his experience when he visited Allie’s grave in Chapter 20. When it started to rain at Allie’s grave, everybody ran away “into their cars to turn on the radio and go a nice place for dinner-except Allie” (156). In the scene with the merry-go-round, Holden feels like he needs to protect Phoebe because he doesn’t want to let her go and leave her there just as he had left Allie.

Much like the symbol of rain in the book, Holden’s hunting red hat has acted as a protector for him. The hat has been something he can...
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