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Symbolism In The "Catcher In The Rye" By J.D. Salinger

1668 words - 7 pages

Symbolism in the "Catcher in the Rye"Catcher in the Rye is a very powerful symbolic book written from the perspective of a troubled teenager, who seems to be excluded from and victimized by the world around him by his own choice. Throughout the novel, the reader is presented with various symbols. The symbols are clearly evident in Holden's constant repetition of their importance and their symbolism is directly related to the major themes of the novel. In this essay, I am going to analyze the key symbols and refer them to the major themes of the novel.Firstly , the characters of Allie, Jane Gallagher and Phoebe represent Holden's perception of innocence and childhood. Allie, Holden's younger ...view middle of the document...

Jane never actually appears in The Catcher in the Rye, but she is extremely important to Holden, because she is one of a few girls whom he both respects and finds attractive. Finally, there is Holden's younger sister Phoebe. Holden views his sister with a sense of wonder and recounts with sentimental appreciation each aspect of Phoebe's life, perceiving her as a complete innocence. Of all the characters in The Catcher in the Rye, Phoebe is the only character he treats with a great degree of tenderness. He listens carefully to everything she says and does not react with cynical observations so typical of Holden's comments. Such treatment of his younger sister, is the obvious manifestation of Holden's idealization of childhood. However, Phoebe does not share her brother's views. Where Holden is sentimental , Phoebe is realistic. She realizes for instance how angry their father might be at Holden and refuses to listen to Holden when he tells her how he will go to a ranch in Colorado. Phoebe confronts Holden with his own immaturity and lack of direction , but this criticism goes farther. Even a nine year old child like Phoebe can realize that Holden needs to mature, yet Holden is unable to come to this revelations himself.Secondly, a number of symbols are used thought the book in order to describe or characterize Holden Caulfield, his insecurity of the world in which he lives, and his disgust with becoming an adult. It can be clearly seen on the examples of such symbols as : Catcher in the Rye, Holden's Red Hunting Hat , The Museum of Natural History and the Ducks in the central Par Lagoon. Firstly, being the catcher in the rye , Holden dreams about saving children. On the first night of his three-night excursion , Holden decides to sneak into his parents' house and visit his sister Phoebe. Phoebe asks Holden what he would like to do with his life. Holden ponders the question and tells Phoebe about the poem, " Comin' Through the Rye".He says, " I keep picturing all there little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff--I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I'd do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all". He wants to catch the children before they fall out of innocence into the knowledge of adult world. Holden likes to believe that he is a childhood and innocence protector. This indicates Holden's anxiety of the world which he lives in , and his aversion with becoming an adult. Secondly, Holden's red hunting hat is a symbol of his uniqueness and individuality ,as well as isolation. He is an original guy who does not really seem to fit anywhere. In the same way, his country-hat does not fit the city environment he lives in. The hat shows that Holden desires to be different from everyone around him . At the same time he is very self-conscious about the hat and he always mentions its...

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