The Catcher In The Rye Symbolism

2301 words - 10 pages

Critical Text
Hypothesis: Symbols in The Catcher in the Rye are used to transform the most straight forward themes.
“Certain things should stay the way they are.” Holden Caulfield, the main character and the narrator of the controversial classic, The Catcher in the Rye, written by J.D. Salinger. Salinger’s first person narration in combination with the symbols in the novel is his two main features which Salinger uses to transform the most straight forward themes. Firstly the theme fear of change; the theme involves the avoidance and pain of change. This is explored through the symbol of “The National Museum of Natural History.” Secondly the theme of alienation as a form of ...view middle of the document...

The symbol used to present the dispassion Holden has for change is “The National Museum of Natural History.” This museum is a place Holden visited regularly when he was a child and growing up it was his safe place. “The best thing though, in that museum was that everything always stayed the same. “The only thing that would be different was you.” (Chapter 16) This quote depicts what Holden is afraid of, as a teenager it seems that you are losing control of everything and nothing is remaining how you remember it. As you grow up you have to take control for your own life and in life decision have to be made about the future. When you are a child every day is certain and rarely anything surprises you. As an adult you wake up not knowing what path your day will take. Holden and the rest of society fear change because of the uncertainty involved. Holden was also afraid to become an adult because of the way he had experienced adults acting. Holden’s fear of change was seen through Holden resisting his rite of passage. He was also afraid of accepting this rite of passage because it meant deciding what he wanted to do in life. As a teenager everything creeps up on you and then you are standing in your final year of high school still having no idea what you want to be and how you are going to become what you want to be; when you finally decide. Change is an inevitable part of life yet over the past 60 years it is still as apparent as when Holden was a teenager. We must accept change to advance in life and if we cannot accept change it is likely we will be forced to accept it sooner or later. Salinger transforms the common them of change to explore the idea that Holden was searching and he had the desire for things to remain the same for ever. Change in this respect crafted the argument of certainty versus uncertainty rather than change in respect to just growing up and changing who you are and what you believe. Change can bring both positive and negative growth depending on your willingness to let life take the path most suitable to you. If a person is willing to be optimistic and grasp the best situation on offer it is much more likely they will gain from change. Once Holden realised he has potential in life and could see a path that was suitable for him, accepting change and the future was simple, however, the beginning of the journey was hard the persistence and desire to create a better society for himself let him create a life he was happy with.
Holden had been an outsider since Allie his brother died. This was obvious at the beginning of the novel when every other person from his school attended a basketball game and he remained in his dorm room. Holden had been afraid to form relationships after his brother died because of the tremendous pain he felt after his brother passed. He was afraid to ever again form relationships because he did not want to have to feel what he felt again. The idea of Holden separating himself from others was crafted...

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