Symbols and Symbolism in “the Catcher in the Rye”

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Symbols and Symbolism in
“The Catcher in the Rye”

There are a few things that define one as an adult: maturity, responsibility, and integrity. Does Holden Caulfield have any of these? J.D. Salinger’s novel, “The Catcher in the Rye,” follows the life of Holden Caulfield, a sixteen-year-old protagonist, who is on the road to becoming an adult and is trying to find all of the three terms above. Holden is living in a world with people that he classifies as morons or phonies. The self realization that he cannot save children from becoming morons or phonies is the key to becoming an adult in Holden’s case, yet there are still symbols that Holden encounters that slowly but surely matures him, makes him responsible and helps him obtain integrity. My first symbol is the title of the book. The title of the novel has a very large connection to the story. The title explains the main character, Holden Caulfield, and his feelings toward life and human nature. In society he has found enormous corruption, harm, and offenses. He knows that the children of the world are ruined by the corruption of adults around them and, he states that his purpose in life will be to help save the children from vulgarity. Holden wants to be a “Catcher in the Rye.” We first hear the title of the novel being used in chapter16, and in chapter 22 we have the full explanation of this title. Allie, Holden's younger brother who died several years earlier, was a major symbol throughout the story. When Holden remembers incidents from his past involving Allie, his attitude changes, such as when he writes the composition about Allie's baseball glove or when Holden broke his hand after punching all of the windows after Allie died. "I slept in the garage the night he died, and I broke all the goddamn windows with my fist, just for the hell of it". (39) He feels that Allie was one of the few people who were not phony in a world full of phonies. More importantly, Allie represents the innocence and childhood...
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