Symbols in the Catcher in the Rye

Topics: The Catcher in the Rye, Robert Burns, J. D. Salinger Pages: 2 (520 words) Published: January 10, 2011
Symbols in The Catcher in the Rye
In the novel “The Catcher in the Rye”, by J.D. Salinger, the main character, Holden Caulfield, tries to preserve children’s innocence, one of the main themes of the book. There are many symbols in the book that show us his dream and desire of becoming “the catcher”: the title of the book, the mummies in the Natural Museum and the phrase “fuck you” on the wall. In this essay, I will develop these symbols more deeply and detailed. First of all, the title of the book, The Catcher in the Rye, is a very important symbol in order to understand his dream. Holden wants to stand on the edge of a cliff and catch anybody who starts to fall off the edge of the cliff. He gets the idea from his misinterpretation of a line from Robert Burns poem, "if a body catch a body comin’ through the rye." We find this out when Phoebe asked him what he would like to be in the future and he answered that he will like to be the catcher because he does not like the phoniness of the world. In other words, he wants to keep the children from growing up and losing their innocence. In short, the title of the book is the key to understand his dream and the theme of innocence. Moreover, the mummies represent a stop in the aging process when everything stays exactly the same. In Holden's mind, the mummies represent staying a child forever and being saved from adulthood. Holden meets two boys at the museum and takes them to see the mummies; he explains them that the Egyptians used some secret chemical so that the bodies would not rot or anything when they are buried. He wishes there were some substance that could preserve children’s innocence as the chemicals preserved the mummies’ bodies. In summary, the mummies have to do with Holden’s desire for unchanging and perpetual childhood. Furthermore, the words “fuck you” on the walls represent that everywhere has been corrupted. When Holden tries to rub out the words on the wall, we can see once again his desire of...
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