- Published: September 7, 2022
- Updated: September 7, 2022
- University / College: Washington University in St. Louis
- Level: Bachelor's Degree
- Language: English
- Downloads: 30
Symbolisms in “ The Catcher in the Rye” by J. D. Salinger In the first place, Holden Caulfield in J. D. Salinger’s “ The Catcher in the Rye” is a 17-year old adolescent who learns to critic life and finds at an early age that there are several reasons why life seems unworthy to live. He remembers people, events, and places well and the way he tells his own story in the novel is quite spontaneous. Caulfield states them either directly or indirectly and whenever it seems necessary to say something indirectly or figuratively, Salinger makes him mention it with symbols. Essentially, “ The Catcher in the Rye” is known for three symbolisms – the wise use of the word “ phony”, the red hunting hat, and the ducks in the lagoon at Central Park.
For one, the schools Pencey Prep and Elkton hills represent places where Holden claims to be meeting a lot of phonies, young and old alike. He particularly stresses the irony these schools present because for instance, while he sees no horse in Pencey, Pencey Prep promotes the institution by featuring a guy in equestrian suit and action. There have been a couple of instances Holden would say ‘ phony’ in reference to either a male or a female person every time observes people who are not being true to themselves. ‘ Phony’ basically means unreal or pretentious and finding out how much he is surrounded by phonies in real life, Holden feels more depressed.
On the other hand, the red hunting hat symbolizes what Holden considers as unique and interesting. The red hat looks old-fashioned but it has striking qualities that relieves Holden of sadness just like its extra-long bill and earflaps that protect him from the cold. He likes to wear it often no matter how ridiculous he appears with it because it is not like any other hats and Holden implies through it that he is hunting for vigor in life. Thus, the hunting hat may stand for something very unusual yet fascinating and in Holden’s case, kids like his little sister Phoebe are the opposite of the usual phonies for they have the sort of cheer, innocence, and kindness that are worthwhile to spend time with.
One time, in a conversation with a cab driver, Holden expresses “ I live in New York, and I was thinking about the lagoon in Central Park, down near Central Park South – I was wondering if it would be frozen over when I got home, and if it was, where did the ducks go? I was wondering where the ducks went when the lagoon got all icy and frozen over.” Somehow, a reader can sense in this part that Holden cares for those who are helpless like himself and a picture of the ducks in the lagoon who might be at risk during winter makes his image of the helpless or the weak who could get in trouble in a phony world. The scenario may also be associated to Holden’s attachment with his sister whom he would often after he left home to seek adventure.
Truly, the novel “ The Catcher in the Rye” speaks to the audience in simple common language yet it aims for the readers to understand and appreciate a view of a good life according to the main character’s personal experience. To do this, Salinger meaningfully allows Holden to confess important events of his life by using the symbolic details of the word “ phony”, the red hunting hat, and the ducks in the lagoon at Central Park, New York.
Salinger, J. D. The Catcher in the Rye. Little, Brown and Company, 1991.
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