Symbols in the Catcher in the Rye

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English 12 IB September 16th, 2011
Symbols in The Catcher in the Rye

The Red Hunting Hat
Holden's Red hunting hat is a symbol of his uniqueness throughout the book. It is a concrete representation of his alienation from “common” people as it looks very peculiar, and thus makes him stand out when he wears it. This represents Holden's desire to stand apart from all the “phonies” of the world. However, the fact that Holden refuses to wear the hat while in the presence of people he knows is a representation of his need for acceptance, despite all he says about his indifference regarding what other people think about him. This means that the hunting hat is a representation of the main conflict in the book, which is that Holden has to balance his need for freedom and isolation with his desire for social relations.

The Ducks
The ducks of the Central Park Pond are often cited as a major symbol in The Catcher in the Rye. This is because their behaviour is easy to relate to for Holden. Indeed, wen the ducks feel the winter is coming, they persevere in the harsher conditions of life at the pond until there comes a point where leaving to a more suitable location becomes necessary. This is the point in life where Holden is at the moment the story takes place. He faces difficulties in his environment and thus has the strong desire to leave to a better place. However, what's more about the ducks is that they come back every summer. This return to the preceding year's nesting area underlines a certain cycle of life, a repeating cycle of good and bad times. Holden can strongly relate to that and it may be that the ducks actually played a very important role in his final decision to remain in New York as opposed to leaving to California by hitch-hiking.

The Carousel
The New York Zoo carousel is an important element in the book because it represents a part of Holden's childhood as well as an important link with his sister Phoebe. Indeed,...
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