Catcher in the Rye

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The Glass Case
In the novel The Catcher in the Rye, the author, J.D. Salinger, takes the reader through Holden Caulfield’s struggles with adolescence as he makes his way through New York City in the 1940’s. Salinger shows how Holden attempts to go on an unrealistic quest to save children from a sudden loss of innocence. Holden’s wake-up call comes in the form of his little sister, Phoebe, who unintentionally illustrates to her big brother that reaching for the gold ring isn’t always a scary thing, but a part of life that everyone must go through. The author uses symbolism to create Holden’s idea of becoming “The Catcher in the Rye,” a way of preventing others from the abrupt loss of innocence. Holden’s idea is challenged by his interactions, and ultimately annihilated; Salinger bluntly displays the harsh reality of life, children must learn from their mistakes, and grow from their pain, in order to function in the adult world.

Salinger introduces the color red as a symbol by presenting the reader with Holden’s brother Allie. Holden’s love for Allie causes him to mourn the death of his brother even more intensely than one would think. Holden suffered deeply when Allie died, not only because he loved him so much, but also because to Holden, Allie was the embodiment of innocence. Holden couldn’t see anything wrong with his little brother, from his bright red hair to his intelligence; Allie was not only the perfect brother, but the perfect child. Holden’s only sense of comfort was lost with his brother. Holden fills the gap his brother left with “this red hat that I’d bought in New York” (17). Salinger chooses to make the hat red as a reminder of Allie’s hair. Salinger also uses this hat to show how desperate Holden is to hold onto innocence in his life. When Holden lost his brother at thirteen he “broke all the windows in the garage, just for the heck of it” (39). Salinger showed Holden’s frustration and violence to display his loss of innocence. A child’s...
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