Salinger takes one of Holden's most apparent qualities, his desire for uniqueness, and expresses it through his red hunting hat. Aside from being different through its garish red color, Salinger adds another layer of character through the way he shows Holden wearing it. "...I swung the old peak round to the back -very corny I'll admit, but I liked it that way."
When Ackley first sees Holden’s red hunting hat he tells Holden that it is a deer-hunting hat. Holden responds in a confident manner and says his red hunting hat is “a people shooting hat,” (22). Without the red hunting hat, Holden would have never said such a bold statement. Holden by no means would actually shoot someone; his statement is figurative. He shoots people away from his life because he wants to be isolated. When he is wearing the red hunting he feels like he can be as individual as he wants. When Holden is feeling unique he feels more powerful. Holden’s statement that the red hunting hat is a people shooting hat symbolizes his need to be better than everyone else. Holden makes insulting statements when he is wearing the red hunting hat because he feels the power to be unique. Holden later in The Catcher in the Rye decides he needs to leave Pencey early and start his journey to New York. As he leaves, he puts on his red hunting hat and screams “sleep tight, ya morons,” (52) as he runs from the dormitory. Holden never tells anyone to their face that he does not like them or that something is disgusting about them. He always keeps it to himself. Although, when he puts on the hat he feels the power his uniqueness gives him and he declares very strongly that everyone is a moron, even though most people were
In The Catcher in the Rye, it is observed that the novel is about grief. There are 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and finally acceptance. The Catcher in the Rye shows how Holden goes through the grieving process. By the end of the novel it shows how Holden has reached closure or a way to let go.
Throughout the majority of the Catcher in the Rye J.D Salinger employs several different symbols that define Holden's personality. One particular object that set him apart from everyone else was his red hunting hat. It is brought up on several different occasions in the book and is often described as an article that reminds him of his brother Allie and sister Phoebe. Salinger furthermore develops the red hunting hat into a symbol by referring to it several times as Holden's own form of uniqueness, aiding in the theme of “ protection of the innocence” and the resistance of maturity.
Holden hangs on to the red hunter hat. The red hunter hat represents innocence, which is a way of Holden bonding with Allie and Phoebe and maintaining innocence. Holden asked about the pond and the ducks that lived in New York twice. He was bothered by their absence, Holden is in some way obsessed with mortality. Also, the idea of the museum changing bothers him. Evolving is a part of life. Yet, Holden doesn't want to accept that. He refers to an Eskimo that fishes through a hole in the ice. The same Eskimo was there when Holden was a child and will continue to be there for Phoebe when she visits. Holden would like for our lives to be like that too. "Certain things they should stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone." He wish we could be frozen in time. He would love to have spent more time with Allie and continue to make more memories with Phoebe.
Holden tries to prevent the inevitable, but one must move on with their life, and that is, contributed to the loss of innocence. His hat keeps him safe from the societal horrors that steal one's innocence. So when he has finally comes to grips with the fact that he must become older, and make grown up decisions, he gives his hat to Phoebe when, she takes it out of his pocket and offers it to him, since it was raining, but he says “You can wear it awhile” (Salinger 233), he does this because he wants to protect her now and stop running away from his
This is most likely because Holden wants to continue living in the past when his brother was alive. Several occasions in the novel Holden expresses the feeling that he is responsible for protecting the innocence of children since he was unable to save Allie. The title of The Catcher in the Rye reflects this responsibility since when Holden is talking to his sister, he says, “I keep picturing all these little kids playing… And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff… I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff,” (Salinger 191). To Holden, falling of the cliff represents the shattering of a child’s innocence, and Holden feels like he has to stop children from growing up. He feels very protective of his little sister Phoebe because she reminds Holden of Allie since they are both younger than Holden and have red hair. For example, when visiting Phoebe’s school, Holden becomes infuriated by the profanity written on the wall and is concerned that other kids, including Phoebe, may see the writing (Salinger 221). Not only does Holden want to prevent other kids from growing up, he wants to keep his own innocence so he does not forget about Allie. Holden notes that “the best thing [about museums] was that everything always stayed right where it was… The only thing that would be different
He sees himself as the useless member of the family, and states that he’s “the only dumb one in the family” (67). The most heartbreaking cause of Holden’s loneliness is the death of his young brother, Allie, to leukemia. The brothers’ connection is shown through the symbol of Allie’s red hair, which Holden could have a “hunch” for even if Allie was sitting “a hundred and fifty yards” away (38). The cut of a bond this deep devastates Holden. Unfortunately, because of his inactive parents, he deals with it through anger and isolation that is symbolized by the red hunting hat he wears. When the hat is pulled to the front, he cannot “see a goddam thing” and says he’s “going blind” (21). The pain from Allie’s death pushes Holden to seclude himself from a world he sees as cold and ominous. More importantly, it prevents him from looking at his own mind and realizing Allie is the reason he is lonely. As if losing own brother wasn’t enough, Holden also loses the presence of his older brother D.B.. The conflict begins when he leaves Holden by moving to Hollywood, and Holden says D.B. will only “maybe” drive him home after his therapy ends (1). Besides his physical absence, D.B. lost Holden’s respect by leaving
Aside from being a liar, Holden is depressed. After Allie, his younger brother passed away, Holden hasn’t been too healthy himself. There is this baseball glove that was Allies, and it is a comfort to him. Along with that, another thing that Holden finds comfort in is a hat. This hate in particular is a red hunting hat. We realize that throughout the novel he is obsessed with the past and finds comfort in certain things. From the past, he finds comfort in Allie’s baseball glove, and a red hunting hat. To add onto these, as he gets older, he starts to smoke, drink, and go to his sister Phoebe to find comfort. Holden is only sixteen years of age, but he looks much older than that which is why he can slip through bars and drink, faking
In Catcher in the Rye author J.D. Salinger uses symbolism to emphasize the significance of Holden’s red hunting hat. Holden wears the red hunting hat to distinguish himself from everyone around. Holden bought the red hunting hat for one dollar in New York the same morning he lost the fencing equipment. The red hunting hat offers Holden protection from the outside world and it also of comforts him in real world situations. Obviously needing protection from the fencing team who ostracized him all the way back to Pencey. The red hunting hat represents Holden’s allure/endearment to unique qualities in objects and people, that normally go unnoticed by others. The hat also symbolizes Holden’s individuality and unwillingness to conform to society’s
Throughout the novel The Catcher in the Rye, there are many themes, motifs and symbols that emerge and develop along with Holden, the protagonist, and the plot. Though the most significant theme is alienation as means for self-protection. In many instances, Holden isolates and alienates himself from his peers and the world in order to protect his morals and his self-imposed superiority. The first evidence of this alienation occurs when Holden speaks to his history teacher, Mr. Spencer. While talking about Mr. Thurmer’s lecture, Holden begins to ponder the “right side”, stating “if you get on the other side, where there aren’t any hot-shots, then what’s the game about?” (Salinger 12).
Holden displays his desire to be the catcher in the rye by expressing his wish to protect the kids from falling off the cliff. Throughout the novel, Holden often states that everything around him seems to be phony; however, there is one thing in which Holden believes is real, and that is the children he encounters in the novel. Quite often does Holden show his desire to protect children from the corrupted adulthood that he
Holden’s little brother, Allie, passed away some years before the story takes place, and is one of the biggest factors in his refusal to let go of the past. For instance, even after so much time has passed, Holden names his dead sibling when asked by Phoebe if there’s anything in the world he cares about. Without memories of Allie, there is apparently nothing else to fit that claim. Allie’s old baseball mitt is still Holden’s most prized possession, and, due to its close personal nature compared to any other items on hand, he writes about it for an assignment even when it goes against the prompt. Therefore, taking note of the effects the death still deals presently, and considering Holden “broke all the windows” in the garage with his fists the day after the death occurred, it makes sense to conclude Allie’s loss has caused him to embrace a jaded view of life and humanity (Salinger, 39). Despite it all, Holden’s venture to the park with Phoebe seems to
Holden Caulfield lives his life as an outsider to his society, because of this any we (as a reader) find normal is a phony to him. Basically, every breathing thing in The Catcher in the Rye is a phony expect a select few, like Jane Gallagher. What is a phony to Holden and why is he obsessed with them? A phony is anyone who Holden feels is that living their authentic life, like D.B. (his older brother). Or simply anyone who fits into society norms, for example, Sally Hayes. Holden’s obsession stems from his fear that he may become a phony one day. So, he spends the book running from adulthood by doing childish things and struggling to keep his life from changing.
From the outset, I have to say that “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger has been one of the most important and influential pieces of literature I have ever read. At its core, the book is a superb coming of age novel which discusses several extremely powerful themes such as the difficulties of growing up, teenage angst and alienation and the superficiality, hypocrisy and pretension of the adult world. These themes resonated deeply with me and were portrayed excellently through the use of powerful symbolism and the creation of highly relatable and likable characters. One such character is Holden Caulfield whom the story both revolves around and is narrated by.