Symbolism in the Catcher in the Rye

Topics: Central Park South, Symbol, Holden Caulfield Pages: 2 (797 words) Published: May 5, 2011
The Catcher in the Rye Essay: Symbolism
Throughout the novel The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger obtain numerous symbols that persist in the book. The symbols I have chosen display Holden Caufield’s emotions, actions, and way of life. There are three symbols unparticular that are used most regularly in the novel. I’ve selected Holden’s red hunting hat, the Museum of Natural History, and the Ducks in Central Park Lagoon. All three of these symbols have great significance in this book.

In the novel Holden says “I put my red hunting hat on, and turned the peak around to the back, the way I liked it, and then I yelled at the top of my god dam voice, "Sleep tight, ya morons!" I'll bet I woke up every bastard on the whole floor. Then I got the hell out. Some stupid guy had thrown peanut shells all over the stairs, and I damn near broke my crazy neck.” (Chapter 7, pg. 52) The red hunting hat is inseparable from the image of Holden Caufield, with good reason. It’s a symbol of uniqueness and individuality as well. Holden also says in Chapter 16 “I took my old hunting hat out of my pocket while I walked, and put it on. I knew I wouldn’t meet anyone that knew me, and it was pretty damp out.” The hat is eccentric and displays Holden’s desires to be diverse from everyone else around him, yet at the same time Holden is very self-conscious about the red hunting hat. He always mentions when he’s wearing it and he often doesn’t wear it if he is going to be around people he associates with. Therefore, the point that the author is trying to make is that the presence of the hat, mirrors the major conflict of the book which is Holden’s need for isolation versus his need for companionship. Another detail is that the hat’s color, red is the same color as Allie’s and Phoebe’s hair. Perhaps Holden interacts with it with the innocence and the purity he believes with these characters represents and wears it as a way to connect to them. Holden never comments on the hat’s...
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