Symbolism in Catcher in the Rye

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All significant novels have important symbols and meanings implicitly woven into their storyline. Within each successful book is a delicately introduced thematic idea of which the author has intentionally created for his audience. It is the readers' obligation to recognize these underlying messages and analyze them based on their connections to the surrounding text. Within Salinger's literary journey, The Catcher in the Rye, many important symbols can be found in the text as they pertain to the main character, Holden Caulfield's, life. Many figurative elements in the story can be found throughout the words spoken to the narrator, by those who are close to him. These quotations may seem one-sided at first, yet after close examination and a sufficient understanding of Caulfield's journey, the author's true literary intentions begin to emerge.

Perhaps the first important quotation included by Salinger to provide insight to the reader occurs in chapter two when Holden is speaking to a former teacher just before leaving his high school. Spencer, Caulfield's teacher, is lecturing Holden on the importance of succeeding in life when he states, "Life is a game, boy. Life is a game that one plays according to the rules." Holden replies by saying, "Yes, sir. I know it is. I know it." Consequently, Holden thinks to himself, "Game, my ass. Some game. If you get on the side where all the hot-shots are, then it's a game, all right—I'll admit that. But if you get on the other side, where there aren't any hot-shots, then what's a game about it? Nothing. No game." This first interaction with an adult instantly gives us an insight into an aspect of Holden's personality. We see the way he reacts to ridicule, although constructive, as well as a hint of disdain toward adults, apparent through his silent aggression that is blanketed with an acquiescent surface and nodding head. The symbolism of this manner is later applicable when he begins speaking in more detail about his...
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