Holden Caulfield Hunting Hat Analysis

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J.D. Salinger expresses the complex emotions of the teenage mind in The Catcher in the Rye. Holden Caulfield, the 16 year old protagonist, is an unreliable narrator that describes his lack of satisfaction in society. He describes his journey as he lies recovering from sickness in bed. This frame story structure immerses readers as he talks them through the journey from being kicked out of Pencey Prep all the way back to his own home. Throughout his journey, Caulfield keeps his hunting hat very close, wearing it to feel unique, but sometimes worrying about his appearance. Also, he describes very early in the novel of his curiosity of where the ducks in a pond go during the winter, introducing his desire for understanding. Finally, he describes…show more content…
Also, he receives much feedback on his hat, emphasizing his uniqueness, but also alienating him, causing discontent. Caulfield’s attachment to his hat shows his desire to stand out from society, but is also attached to anxiety. He wears his hat in harsh conditions like rain or snow, symbolising its protection from social judgement and ridicule. Caulfield also gives the hat to his little sister Phoebe when she is upset that he flunked out of yet another school. His desire is that the hat will comfort her, since it provides protection for him. Caulfield wants Phoebe’s innocence protected from society. The red hunting hat symbolizes protection through alienation, strengthening the theme of discontent with modern society through Caulfield’s attachment to…show more content…
He tells his sister that his dream is to catch playing children from falling off a cliff. The children of the dream symbolize purity and innocence while the cliff symbolizes modern society. Caulfield wants to keep others from the knowledge of society that blemishes human innocence and virtue. He believes that society is perverting children and turning them into “phony” adults. The thought of his sister becoming like those that he despise depresses him. Caulfield’s dream of being a “catcher in the rye” symbolizes a desire to preserve innocence and genuinity, emphasizing the theme of discontent with modern society through his refusal to let children be harmed. Caulfield overcomes a momentous journey featuring his red hunting hat, ducks in a pond, and his “catcher in the rye” dream. These important elements symbolize his unique character and desire to be apart from society. Caulfield is discontent with society and the fact that others are not greatly annoys him. He recounts traumatic experiences that shape him into the rebellious teen he is. His desire for protection, fear of change, and preservation of innocence reflect his frustration with society. Salinger’s theme of discontent with society is enhanced through the symbolism used in The Catcher in the
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