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The Catcher In The Rye Symbol

1163 words - 5 pages

Symbols, which stand for something beyond themselves, are everywhere around us. Red octagon signs along the street, flag with a maple leaf, and skeleton on a chemical container; we all know what they mean. In the book The Catcher in the Rye, there are symbols that represent some of the important ideas and they lead the readers to figure out the hidden meaning behind their representations. Three of the most significant symbols in the book are Holden’s red hunting hat, the Museum of Natural History and the ducks in the Central Park Lagoon.

One of the most significant symbols throughout the story is Holden’s red hunting hat. This catchy, long-peaked hat demonstrates the symbol of uniqueness, ...view middle of the document...

When he leaves Pency, he mentioned that “[He] didn’t give a damn how [he] looked. Nobody was around anyway. Everyone was in the sack” (Catcher 53), while in the hotel, he takes it off before he checks in because he “didn’t want to look like a screwball or something.” (Catcher 61) This could possibly be explained by Holden’s personality that he is not an expressive person. He wants to look tough and strong so he hides his weak side and his lack of sense of security. Therefore, the red hunting hat can fully represent the symbol of uniqueness, innocence and Holden’s need of security.

While the red hunting hat is one of the biggest symbols in the book, the Museum of Natural History is the other one. The museum Holden mentioned in the book represents a simple, unchanging and forever lasting world. Holden fears changes in his life due to Allie’s senseless death. He loves the museum because he thinks “the best thing, though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was. Nobody’d move…. Nobody’d be different. The only thing that would be different would be you.” (Catcher 121) The stability and permanence of the museum make it an ideal world to Holden since he wants to stay in a world that is simple and unchanging so that he can stay in his childhood and be innocent forever. The museum recalls him of his childhood, which was the happiest time in is his life. He fears to go there again because it makes him see the reality that he is always evading. Standing in front of the museum, he decides not to enter because he does not want to destroy the fantasy built in his mind. However, as time goes by, he finds out that fantasy always is a fantasy, which never exists in the real world. He eventually steps into the museum to direct the kids and here he acts as an elder person to guide the younger ones. This may show that he is learning to accept the changes and face the reality. Consequently, the Museum of Natural History is an important symbol to the book as it indicates a simple and unchanging world which makes the readers understand the inner thought of Holden better.

Lastly, apart from the mentioned two symbols, the other obvious one is the ducks...

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