The Catcher in the Rye

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The Catcher in the Rye
Like any good artist, authors must leave room for interpretation in their work. Symbolism provides readers with a chance to read between the lines and further interpret the literature. J.D. Salinger creates depth in his novel, The Catcher in the Rye, through the use of symbolism. By looking deeper into the symbols of the novel readers understand the true message he wishes to convey. The novel contains many symbols which give insight into Holden's views and feelings; these symbols include Holden's hunting hat, his fascination with the duck pond, and the use of the title The Catcher in the Rye.

Holden's hunting hat is a distinct part of his identity as a character. Holden frequently wears the hat, despite its different and unconventional appearance. The hat stands for Holden's uniqueness and individuality. The bright red color of the hat also serves as a symbol. When Holden remembers Allie he often talks about his bright red hair. He also connects this color to Phoebe, who shares the same hair color. Holden uses the hat as a symbol of his siblings that he loves dearly. He wears the hat as a way to feel connected to them. Phoebe knows the importance of the hat and gives it back to Holden even though she thinks he will leave her. "Then what she did-it damn near killed me-she reached in my coat pocket and took out my red hunting hat and put it on my head"(Salinger 274). Holden's hat concretely represents him, whereas the pond more symbolically represents his youth and fear of change.

The frozen pond and the migration of the ducks symbolize many things. Holden's curiosity about the duck pond shows his inner youth. Like a child, he constantly questions where the ducks go during winter. "I was thinking about the lagoon in Central Park... I was wondering if it would be frozen over when I got home, and if it was, where did the ducks go" (Salinger 18)? The ducks leave every winter but return in the summer; this shows him that nothing remains...
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