Symbolism In Salinger's The Catcher In The Rye

1580 Words7 Pages
The story of The Catcher in The Rye explains Holden Caulfield's journey to discover his purpose in life. Throughout the novel, he travels around New York, interacting with several people. But not only people, but symbols help Holden to understand how the world works, from a Red Hat to a Childhood museum, these symbols dictate his feelings towards the outside world and people around him. Innocence and permanence are staples of the story, and Salinger's use of a Hat, Childhood Museums,ducks, and a carousel, are able to convey these idea because of their representation of these concepts. A red hunting hat that Holden buys at the beginning of his story, is used repeatedly to protect Holden from the outside world, and this allows him to keep his…show more content…
He uses it in a way to reassure himself, and blocking out the outside world. While walking down the street, Holden feels uncomfortable and pulls it out, “But it was freezing cold, and I took my red hunting hat out of my pocket and put it on - I didn’t give a damn how I looked. I even put the earlaps down.” (pg.88 ). Salinger puts substantial emphasis on how Holden’s hat is a symbol that protects him from the harshness of the outside world. But the hat also symbolizes a shield for Holden, protecting his innocence. While it’s raining, he notices his hat offering him a barrier, “I got pretty soaking wet, especially my neck and my pants. My hunting hat really gave me quite a lot of protection, in a way, but I got soaked anyway.” (pg 212). Here the rain is representing the cruelty of growing up, but how the hat offers him protection. It resembles how growing up comes with that harsh reality of life, and how being dry resembles innocence, and when your wet, you lose that innocence. But the hat is able to give Holden protection, slowing down the process of getting wet, which means growing up. Even though the hat was able to slow down Holden getting soaked, it was an…show more content…
The Museum for Holden is a place from his childhood, where he was able to see things and see them again as he grew older. He was always fond of the Museum because it was able to keep items the same forever. Holden wishes he was able to do the same, “Certain things they should just stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big cases and just leave them there.” (Pg. 122) Holden has had plenty of good times at the museum, but he knows every time is different because he will grow older and his perception of symbols and events will change. He want to keep everything in a place where it could stay as pure and amazing as the first time he experienced it. Especially with children, as we see Holden believe that children are better and more pure. Meanwhile the adults in the story are only people who ruin things or are phonies. But he sees children with a positive attitude, so naturally Holden wants everyone to stay as pure and as innocent as they could be. Like many other symbols, the museum represents innocence, especially as a child. But when Holden goes back to the museum, he sees a “f#ck you” on the wall, which is not removable. He is disturbed by this, saying “you can’t ever find a place that’s nice and peaceful, because there isn’t any. You may think there is, but once you get there, when you’re not
Open Document